Fundamental Media Insights


Media buying and planning

Year 12s: too much focus on university, no info on other options after college

Students in Year 12 would like to see schools discussing different options to university

Key points:

  • Most Year 12 students are satisfied with the support received from their school during Covid
  • The students indicated many schools only discuss university with no attention given to other post-graduation options such as apprenticeships
  • The experiences of friends and family are an important decision-making factor for those looking to go to university

Most Year 12 students are satisfied with the support they received from their school during Covid but would like to see a wider array of post-graduation options discussed besides university.

During the height of the UK’s winter lockdown, Fundamental L&D ran three focus groups to gauge overall sentiment, the impact of Covid on their future plans and their overall satisfaction with the choices they have made. We interviewed a group of Year 12s, a group of first-year university students, and a group of individuals doing a gap year.

Year 12 students had a tough time transitioning from in-person to online learning and back again, but overall felt well-supported by their schools and teachers. However, some students mentioned their school had failed to check up on students who might have been struggling mentally. They also mentioned some schools would get in touch via email or online calls with their students even after their last day, while others went silent immediately after the last day of school.

Some students believed they had received better scores than they would’ve in ordinary times because there was no stress of having to do exams. Nonetheless, the students in our focus group felt it was unfair that their GCSE results depended on which school they went to. Because it was up to teachers to consider students’ previous scores and provide the GCSE results, one student said they know some who passed who shouldn’t have and vice versa.

Slightly more than half of our focus group wants to go to university, while others are looking at careers that don’t require a degree and are therefore considering other options such as dance college or an apprenticeship. The students said their schools have been talking about university with them, but those students who do not plan to go to university mention how only university gets discussed with no time spent talking about any other options such as apprenticeships.

The pandemic hasn’t really impacted their decisions, although one said she is now keener on taking a gap year and another mentioned she hopes their experience will be different than that of her sister, who recently started university but didn’t get the full university experience due to Covid.

Those that plan to attend university are not yet certain where they will apply, but for most of them choosing a university is more about the experience they’re likely to get than about picking a high-ranking university. Similar to what we heard from the individuals doing a gap year, the experiences of friends and family are an important decision-making factor.

To conclude, Year 12 students want to know more about the different options available to them so that they can make a considered decision. It’s therefore key that universities focus not just on the subject and experience, but also the career trajectory on completing a degree in order that students know they’ve made the best decision for their future.

Insights Media buying and planning Year 12s: too much focus on university, no info on other options after college