How do students view alternatives to university?

Jul 11, 2022 | Attraction & marketing

New research shows how students view alternatives to university as well as how they can be better prepared for work.

Uptree’s 2022 Summer Student Survey features insights from students aged 16-21. Some of the findings were reported in a blog on How do students feel about their future careers?.

Here we look at views on alternatives to university and how students can be better prepared for work.


Uptree’s research shows a significant number of students (49%) feel pressure to go down the ‘traditional’ career route of university due to expectations from family (68%) and wider society (58%).

Uptree are working to reduce the stigma around alternatives to university as many students leave school without the skills to thrive in the workplace, working with both employer partners, students and parents.

Employers should look at highlighting the long-term benefits of different pathways including the various levels of apprenticeships, such as degree apprenticeships, and internships. What positions can they lead to? How are they valued within that particular industry?


When asked what students felt was true about apprenticeships, 42% of students thought that apprentices do not earn very much and 31% feel employers do not value them. These statistics show that there’s still work to be done in changing perceptions of apprenticeships.

Many students are unaware that some careers don’t require a degree, so highlighting alternatives to university is key to changing perceptions and driving talent to organisations that take advantage of these schemes. Employers are missing out on talent due to perceptions of university life and misconceptions around apprenticeships.

Uptree wants to see more employers increasing their student outreach to inform students of opportunities in their company.

Preparing students for work

There are many ways to help students make the right career choices and prepare them for the professional environment. Unfortunately the current career guidance that students receive in school is not preparing students for the workplace fully.

Uptree suggests that employers try to support schools in meeting the Gatsby Benchmarks by connecting with students, introducing them to work experience and addressing their individual needs. For schools in Scotland, companies can identify areas to support students through the Careers Education Standard.

After asking students what they felt would help to prepare them for the professional environment, 77% felt that attending insights or work experience events at a company would help.

  • 66% meeting and networking with professionals
  • 67% learning more about industries and jobs
  • 63% more access to information and resources.

By conducting outreach to students aged 16-21, companies will benefit from a long-term presence, educating and raising brand presence from the root. Showcasing your work culture through school outreach is likely to mean better matched students from the outset.

Uptree recommends employers make themselves and their resources as accessible as possible, taking a more ‘human’ approach to introducing students to the workplace. This will lead to less drop outs during the recruitment process or in the first year of a role. Through this, employers will be connected to better matched students to help retention.

Read more student insights and data

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