I don’t think I agree with the idea of university as a ‘failsafe’, although I’m still not sure I understand what you intend by the word. So I’m going to use Matt Pinkett’s line: ‘Aim for whatever you want to do, and if you don’t get it, well, at least you can go to university.’ That assumes that whatever you want to do won’t be best achieved by going to uni. Obviously, university is not the best route for everything or for everyone, but for the vast majority of the best paid and most secure jobs, it is – if not a prerequisite – at least a
There is plenty of research showing a significant earnings premium on average for graduates regardless of background. Probably the most comprehensive work is the paper by the IFS ‘How English domiciled graduate earnings vary with gender, institution attended, subject and socio-economic background’. The Sutton Trust has also done many excellent studies on different aspects of this question which is actually a lot more complex than it sounds.
The media coverage of my paper for HEPI Fairer Funding: the case for a graduate levy has been widespread and the reactions surprisingly favourable. While there haven’t been many people getting out the bunting and ticker tape, many people seem to agree that it is an interesting proposal and it is right and timely to address the question of employer contributions to the cost of higher education. The most common complaint, however, appears to be to deny that market forces have any place in higher education. One tweet read: You’ve made the fundamental mistake of assuming that market forces can be made to operate efficiently