Tuesday, 13 April 2010

High-achieving students sailing through life without a degree

There is a new breed of high-achieving students who are spurning university in favour of work. Why?
Jamie Ponting, 19, worked 25 hours a week at his local supermarket and still managed to shine as a finance academy student at Cirencester College: he got four As at A-level, as well as a distinction in his BTec national award in personal and business finance, equivalent to another A-level.

Ponting might seem an obvious candidate for a top university, and indeed, he had a place waiting for him at Bath.

So why did he go straight from FE college into the world of work?

"Originally, I was going to go to university," he explains. "But having done a six-week internship [at Capita in Swindon] the summer before my final year at college, and been getting money and enjoying it, I thought, really, did I want £30K of debt?"

Ponting is one of a new breed of high-achieving students who have looked hard at what higher education has to offer and decided that the innovative new courses available at their local further education college are plenty good enough.

Cirencester College says it is offering students an alternative to university by fast-tracking them through employer-led academy programmes – affiliated to Career Academies UK, which works with over 120 colleges and schools to support young people who want to pursue business careers.

The finance academy that Ponting graduated from involves not only a stretching academic programme equivalent to three A-levels, but also a paid internship, personal mentoring and visits and talks from local companies.

Other subjects available through academy programmes include business, IT, law, marketing and engineering.



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