University education could boost UK economy, according to research
A report from Universities UK, an advocacy organisation for universities in the UK, has highlighted the importance of university education and the continued upgrading of skills to the UK economy.
The study, entitled Solving future skills challenges, showed that challenges, such as the UK’s exit from the EU and the rise of technologies such as artificial intelligence, are driving demand for higher skills.
Among the higher skills that Universities UK believes are set to rise in demand are qualifications at level 4 and 5 (HNCs, HNDs and Foundation Degrees), level 6 (bachelor degrees), and level 7 and 8 (postgraduate and research degrees).
More than 70% of businesses believe that there will be an increase in high-skilled job roles in the next few years, with financial services being among the sectors where growth is expected. More than 50% of employers believe that academic qualifications in the sector are critical or significant.
The study also revealed that the number of part-time students in higher and further education or studying with alternative providers dropped from 539,645 in 2013/14 to 476,910 in 2016/17, and is now calling for policymakers to tackle this issue by encouraging universities to form closer links with employers, particularly SMEs.
Commenting on the importance of boosting the number of students in higher education, Universities UK’s Chief Executive said: “There is rising employer demand for the broad skills developed at university across a wide range of subjects and levels. The UK economy and society needs more graduates. Educating more people of all ages at university would grow our economy faster, by increasing productivity, competitiveness, and innovation.”