How has the UK student population changed?

September is the time in youth work where we say “hello” to new young people and goodbye to older young people who are making their way into employment or off to university.

The ONS has produced some very interesting data about student population in the UK.

Student numbers have almost doubled since 1992

percentage-of-18-to-24-year-olds-in-full-time-education-who-are-in-employment

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In the period March to May 1992, there were 984,000 people aged 18 to 24 in full-time education. In May to July 2016, there were 1.87 million, approximately 1 in every 3 people, aged 18 to 24 in full-time education.

Looking at the employment rate amongst this group you can clearly see students gaining employment during the holidays. Surprisingly for me, students in 2016 are less likely to be in employment than 20 years ago, with on average 35.4% having a job in June to August 2015 to May to July 2016 compared with 40.3% in the same period 20 years previously.  However, those that do have a job are more likely to keep it throughout the entire academic year, this is reflected by the fact that the peaks and troughs in the data are less pronounced in 2016 than they were 2 decades ago.

percentage-of-18-to-24-year-olds-in-full-time-education-who-are-in-employment

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International student numbers have fallen and are at their lowest since 2007

Over a quarter of immigrants come to the UK for formal study. In 1977, there were 29,000 international students, rising to a peak of over 8 times this amount in 2010. However, recent years have seen a decline in long-term immigrants arriving to study, with numbers falling to 164,000 in the year ending March 2016.

long-term-international-immigrants-arriving-for-formal-study

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Amazing student invention

Two undergraduate students at the University of Washington have worked to invent a new way to communicate. Navid Azodi and Thomas Pryor won a $10,000 Lemelson-MIT Student Prize — an American search for the most inventive undergraduate and graduate students — for their invention, SignAloud gloves, which can translate American Sign Language into speech or text.

Azodi told UW Today:

“Our purpose for developing these gloves was to provide an easy-to-use bridge between native speakers of American Sign Language and the rest of the world.  The idea initially came out of our shared interest in invention and problem solving. But coupling it with our belief that communication is a fundamental human right, we set out to make it more accessible to a larger audience.”

Each of the SignAloud gloves has sensors that record movement and gestures then transmit the info wirelessly to a central computer. The computer then looks at the data, and if it matches a gesture, then the associated word or phrase is spoken through a speaker.

Saying goodbye to students

goodybe - michael-phelan

As our young people leave for uni we try to give them a little goody bag.  This year it included:

  • Pot Noodle
  • Bag for life
  • Pens
  • Post-it notes
  • Notebook
  • Corkscrew
  • Baked beans
  • Highlighters
  • First by Matt Carvel

Some of these are fairly useless and jokey presents, others have a more serious use and meaning to them but for us it is important that we mark this rite of passage as they leave home for the first time.  We want our young people to know that as they leave our youth ministry, as they leave our little village on the edge of the New Forest and head out into the big wide world we still deeply care for them.

As part of our goodbye we also run an event for those going off to university for the first time where we eat lots of pizza, and chat around topics such as accommodation, finance, lectures, friendships, relationships, social life, CU, church and more using a mixture of youth leaders and some 2nd and 3rd year students.  We had lots of feedback this year that this was a really helpful event giving lots of practical information and helping to deal with their fears and nervousness.

With all our students we try to keep in contact – over the first term we plan to send a couple of parcels to each of our students, and send fortnightly emails keeping in touch with each of them.  We’re looking forward to a Christmas social when they’ll all next be back together as a big group.

75% of homeless youth use Facebook and Twitter

Homeless Person

A recent study found that 75% of homeless young people use social networks to stay connected to others – a number comparable to that of university and college students.

The study, led by the University of Alabama’s Rosanna Guadagno, surveyed 237 college and 65 homeless young people that were an average of 19 years old.  A vast majority of both groups reported using social media networks such as Twitter and Facebook for at least one hour each day.

Over 90 percent of college students reported using social media programs for at least one hour every day.

Guadagno makes the argument that a “digital divide” in Internet access should be re-thought:

“To the extent that our findings show a ‘digital divide’ between undergraduates at a four-year university and age-matched participants in a program for homeless young adults, it is mainly in types of Internet use and not access to the Internet, and that divide is relatively minor.  Since it is clear that the proportions of undergraduates and homeless young adults accessing social networking sites are similar, we assert that the term digital divide is not descriptive of the young adult population.”

Another recent study from the University of Dayton found that homeless youth are closely linked to social media in their daily lives. They don’t only use such networks for social contact and equality, but as a means to solve practical daily issues.

Art Jipson, the head of the Dayton study, found that the homeless use social media as a place where all people are treated “equally,” and through a series of interviews, discovered that it can also be a medium to find social services, somewhere to sleep and their next hot meal.

I’d be interested to know if any similar research has occurred in the UK with the ever increasing group of sofa surfer teenagers.