University not worth it?
A new survey of thousands of young people found that the proportion who think going to university is worthwhile has shrunk in recent years. Conducted by Ipsos, the poll of 2,300 school pupils in the UK found that 75% agreed it was “important” to go to uni. In 2013 the figure was 86%, suggesting a growing scepticism about further education among Generation Z. The findings are not just academic but have real world consequences. There are still 26,000 unoccupied places on university courses in England and Wales for the 2018/2019 academic year. The percentage of young people who said they were “very likely” to go to university also slipped - from 38% to 32%.
“Young people face a dilemma,” said Sir Peter Lampl of the Sutton Trust charity which commissioned the survey. “If they go on to university they incur debts of over £50,000 and will be paying back their loans well into middle age. And in a number of cases they end up with degrees that don’t get them into graduate jobs.”
Social innovation award
A NEW award for young social innovators has been launched in Africa. President Akufo-Addo of Ghana is behind the Africa Innovates for the SDGs award which will recognise young people who can help the continent meet its Social Development Goals.
Akufo-Addo is also the co-chair of a pan-African NGO dedicated to promoting what is known as the universal social development agenda. The Social Development Goals are a set of challenges Africa hopes to overcome by 2030. They replace the Millennium Development Goals which expired in 2015 and include things like ensuring food security and investing in R&D.
Young leaders, social activists, entrepreneurs and scientists who believe they can help Africa achieve its SDGs can launch their bid to receive the award until 7 September 2018.
They must have already developed a new solution to a serious problem which is proven to have benefitted a substantial number of people. Entrants must be at least 18 years old and either be a citizen of an African country or resident in one for at least three consecutive years. More information can be found about the award and the process here.
Lost in translation
JUST one in five American youngsters study a foreign language as part of their education, compared to nine out of ten Europeans. Pew research indicates there are vast differences across countries and American states when it comes to the importance foreign languages are given in the classroom.
The fact that English is currently the world’s lingua franca is considered a key factor. In just 10% of US states learning a foreign language at high school is mandatory. The best performing state is New Jersey, where 51% of students learn a second language, compared to the national average of 20%.
In the UK, less than half (47%) of students gain an official qualification in a language other than English. By contrast around 80% of continental European pupils study at least one language that is not their mother tongue.
In Malta, Liechtenstein and Luxembourg the figure is 100%. Meanwhile the European Commission is encouraging a continent-wide multilingual academic system whereby students will learn two additional languages.
While in Europe students typically learn some combination of English, French, German and Spanish, that appears to be changing. For the first time in history the number of pupils aged 17-18 sitting their pre-university exams in England who chose to study Chinese surpassed those who studied German.