A new report by the Institute for Social and Economic Research has found a direct link between the state of the economy and teenagers' attitudes towards their education.
By examining the educational attitudes and aspirations of 11-15 year olds between 1994 and 2010, Mark Taylor and Tina Rampino found that during periods of high unemployment students were far more likely to be influenced by their parents' attitudes towards education. Children whose parents had not experienced further education were reluctant to take A Levels and get a University degree as they were worried about getting work afterwards, whilst those from a highly-educated background were even more likely to continue with their studies.
The study found that when youth unemployment rose from 10% to 20%, the proportion of students whose parents had a positive attitude towards schooling who wanted to continue to sixth form rose from 94% to 97%, whilst the proportion of the same group wanting to go to university rose from 84% to 86%. A more marked change was witnessed among those whose parents had a negative attitude towards schooling, with the proportion of those wanting to continue to sixth form falling from 87% to 64% and the proportion of those wanting to get a university degree falling from 78% to a mere 46%.
The report recommends that policy makers should target 'appropriate policies aimed at maintaining positive educational attitudes and aspirations towards children and their parents in neighbourhoods and schools where a high proportion of the population have low qualifications.'
This report clearly highlights the increased need for IntoUniversity's work in this period of financial difficulty. The personal economic benefits of a degree and the positive impact of Higher Education on employment prospects have been proven in a number of reports, so it is crucial that no student chooses not to continue with education based on misconceptions about employment or the prejudices of a parent.