19 August 2019

Why don’t young people trust universities?

Just 65% of young people think it’s important to go to university, down from 75% a year ago, and 86% in 2013. This is according to a poll conducted by Ipsos MORI for the Sutton Trust.

Whilst this may be in part due to more awareness of apprenticeships and other opportunities, I can’t help thinking that this is mainly about a sharp erosion of trust amongst Gen Z in authority, large corporations, public bodies, and in universities in particular. 

As universities become more corporate and more business-like in their behaviour, so they become less believable and less trustworthy. And so students will reach out to their peers – who they do trust – for their views and opinions. Without intervention, their belief in the importance of higher education will simply spiral ever downward.

More open, more honest, more authentic

Clearly this matters: not just for the admissions statistics and finances of universities, but for far deeper reasons. Universities’ very purpose is questioned by precisely the people they are here to benefit.

It is difficult to imagine a single statistic that presents a more compelling case for universities to be more open, more honest and more authentic in the way they communicate with their future students. Universities should be actively encouraging and enabling these students to reach out to peers who ARE benefiting from university and DO believe in its power to benefit and transform lives.

And given this generation lives most of their lives on the internet, this can’t just take place on campus and in schools (important as this work is!). No, it needs to take place where the students are – which is on their smartphones!

This is why we set up Unibuddy, and if you aren’t one of the 150+ universities on board, making online peer-to-peer a reality, then it would be great if you would take a look. And if not, do have a serious think about how you can enable your future students to reach out and connect with your best role models – your current students – in a way that truly works for them.


 

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