Opinion

Why a financial education is more valuable than a university one

8 min read

27 April 2016

The Institute for Fiscal Studies, University College London, Harvard and Cambridge found that numerous UK graduates earn significantly less than those that don’t opt for higher education, raising questions about the efficiency of university education. Marco Robinson, creator of Wealth Revolution Group, The Rich List and Naked Restaurants, responds to these findings.

In the past couple of decades, attendance rates at UK universities have rocketed. Yet, as a recent Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) report highlighted, there is a disparity in the financial and educational benefit of university institutions and courses. Too many young individuals embark upon degrees from lower quality universities with the assumption that their studies will ensure they secure a position immediately upon graduation.

Unfortunately, many are hit by an unpleasant dose of reality when they find themselves unemployed at the age of 22, with no work-experience to speak of and £40,000 worth of debt. 

Figures in 2015 from the higher Education Statistics Agency revealed that a third of working graduates took jobs as cleaners, road sweepers and office juniors six months after graduation and that over 60,000 were in “non-professional” roles, whilst almost 16,730 were out of work. Moreover, the IFS report claimed graduates from 28 UK institutions earned less than they would have been, had they not attended university. To add insult to injury, they are left with a sizable student debt to pay off. 

There therefore needs to be far more transparency in how university study and the selection of a specific university course, will affect future financial prospects. Whilst, ten years after study, a medical student earns around £55,000 a year, the average creative arts student will be earning just £17,900. With this in mind and amidst the recent revelation that the financial prospects of graduates are lower than their non-university educated peers, we need to question why we continue to encourage all youngsters into university. 

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The root of the problem seems to be that young adults are not given advice tailored towards their needs and capabilities. Instead, they are tarred with a single brush and shipped off to low quality university institutions. As such, they are poorly informed as to whether their university course is really worth the investment in time or money. Also, there isn’t a single syllabus in any educational institution in the world dedicated to the financial success of its students, whether in business, property investment or even money management, yet this one of the most important aspect of our lives.

Along with teachings on how to be financially astute, lessons in how to start a business would be hugely beneficial in a world where everyone wants to be an entrepreneur. I strongly believe the education system itself needs a revamp. As a report published by the Authority of the House of Lords in 2016 highlighted, the current system for young people who choose not to follow an academic route is complex and incoherent. Poor career advice and education means most young people drift into further studies or their first job, which often has no real prospect of progression.

Despite the House of Lord’s report emphasising the importance of apprenticeship schemes in up-skilling Brits for the future economy, just six per cent of 16-18 year olds follow this route. And none are introduced to a mentor in their entire lifetimes. This is a tremendous loss because apprenticeship courses provide the ability for young people to learn key skills and gain industry-specific qualifications, whilst earning a decent living wage.

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Read on to find out more about Robinson’s background story.

For those from lower socio-economic backgrounds, who struggle to fund university, apprenticeships offer a fantastic route into work. The educational system therefore needs to invest more effort into promoting apprenticeships and training courses as a viable alternative to university.

As a CEO and entrepreneur, who dropped out of school at 16, I personally find the current emphasis on the necessity of a university education incredibly frustrating. My own experiences indicate that hard work and a bottom up financial education are far more valuable in ensuring business success and long term economic security.

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I had a relatively traumatic childhood, which limited my educational prospects. As such, I was forced to attend 30 different schools during my education. This tumultuous upbringing resulted in me leaving school at 16 with no qualifications. As a university education wasn’t much of an option for me, I was forced to find an alternative route to success. I invested in practical training with qualified mentors and hands-on experience.

From cleaning the floor of Woolworths, I worked my way up the ranks to become the CEO of a Malaysian company called Public Company, Tanco Resorts BHD and took that company to a billion dollars within three years, breaking the world sales record in the entire industry. In addition to this, I became an entrepreneur in 2009 and started a business from scratch with no capital. This business made £9m in its first year, enabling me to go on to build several multi-million dollar companies from scratch and invest my wealth in property culminating in winning the People’s Choice Best Real Estate Investment Company in 2015 and writing two bestselling books on the topic.

I achieved all of this, without academia or any official qualifications. All that was required was hard work, dedication and the realisation that the only person who was going to get me what I wanted was me. My story is not unique either, as you’ll know some of the world’s leading entrepreneurs and innovators didn’t go to university.

My personal opinion is that university doesn’t offer a good return on investment. As an international CEO, I employ people all over the world and I am often far more impressed by those who have gained hands on training in their respective industries, than a degree. In my experience, hard work and training is a far more valuable tool for future success. As such, I am an advocate of apprenticeships, hands on experience and most importantly qualified mentors with a proven track record.

Whether it was because they came up with a great idea for a business while they were studying, or just felt the process wasn’t for them, some of the most successful entrepreneurs and business leaders of recent times never got the chance to don a cap and gown at graduation.

Marco Robinson is a number one bestselling author. His latest bestselling book, “The Financial Freedom Guarantee” which teaches a proven blueprint on how to be financially independent, can be accessed here.