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Call for vocational routes to fill the void as hike in tuition fees deters students

The number of university applications in the UK has fallen by 8.9% compared to last year, according to the university applications body UCAS. This will be the first year group to start at university since the introduction of £9,000 per year fees.

Liz Field, CEO of Financial Skills Partnership, said, "Although there appears to be a slowdown in the number of people going to university, one would hope that it doesn’t suggest a reduction in aspirations that young people have for their future. And thankfully, research we have carried out recently with Career Academies UK would suggest that young people are in fact still eager to progress in their careers.”

Financial Skills Partnership has launched Directions – a free online careers destination for young people to gain an insight into the financial sector and pursue career opportunities with leading organisations. The site enables ambitious young people to link to employers and work opportunities, and introduce them to a career in finance – a sector that has always been committed to development and skills. Companies including RBS, HSBC, Aviva and Nationwide have signed up to Directions, giving opportunities from some of the major players in the industry.

Liz concluded, "It would be unfortunate if tuition fees are indeed a factor when young people consider going to university or not but the upshot is that we are already seeing growth in the range of alternatives, which include vocational routes such as apprenticeships.

There is a concerted effort among leading firms, particularly in finance, to bolster their recruitment and training procedures to welcome new entrants to the sector from more diverse routes. But this must be matched by an awareness infrastructure that lets more young people know of the options that are available to them, as well as widespread willingness among all firms to consider widening their entrance requirements to encompass vocational routes.”