Yesterday I went to the ‘Secret Life of Students’ conference organised by WonkHE. There was a tremendous amount of input over a wide range of aspects of students’ experiences. I plan to share some of the things that stood out to me in the coming days, and what they might mean for those of us in student ministry.
One of the repeated refrains over the course of the day was that there is no ‘average’ student (a theme I may return to in the coming days). However, a vast number of statistics were shared. I’ve picked the twenty bullet points that most stood out to me. Some of them are statistics about Gen Z (defined as those born between 1995 and 2010). Though several presenters were at pains to point out that not all students come from Gen Z, many do – and so I’ve included the stats here too.
- Only around 10% of undergraduates say that university life largely matches the expectations they had before starting.
- Less than a third of undergraduates begin their studies with a career in mind – amongst privately-educated students, this figure is less than a quarter.
- Parents are those most likely to have influenced members of Gen Z’s values (for 89%), followed by peers (78%) and teachers (70%). Gen Z are more likely to cite fictional characters than celebrities as having influenced their values!
- 94% of Gen Z say that physical and mental health is essential to happiness. Only 31% report good emotional wellbeing.
- 77% of Gen Z in the UK support same sex-marriage rights, 80% support transgender equality and 90% believe that men and women should be treated equally.
- 41% of Gen Z’s time spent outside of school or university is spent connected online, compared to 22% for those a similar age a decade ago.
- 79% of Gen Z view binge drinking as ‘very risky’, compared to 56% of those a similar age in 2004. 28% view any sort of alcoholic intake at all as ‘very risky’. (Fascinatingly, they are less likely to place recreational drug use in the same category!).
- Only two-thirds of Gen Z claim to be exclusively attracted to the opposite sex.
- 39% of Gen Z always buy shoes geared to their own gender.
- 32% of the time that 16-24-year olds are online is for communication purposes, significantly more than any other age group.
- Gen Z are as likely to trust the word of strangers on the street as any other age group – unusual for people their age. 80% of them say that they trust civil servants.
Life at university
- 16% of students say that they feel lonely at university every day. Amongst disabled students, this figure rises to 29%.
- 15% of British students said they do not consider themselves to have any true friends at university; amongst international students, the figure is 20%. This rate roughly halves (to 8%) amongst those are an active part of a club or society at university.
- 19% of international students feel homesick.
- On average, students pay £153 per week for a place in a private purpose-built university hall. Accommodation is around £25 per week cheaper in the private rental market.
- 6% of students commute more than an hour to university; in London, this figure rises to 14%.
Beyond university and hopes for the future
- 91% of students say that it’s important to work for a company that has an ethical reputation. 31% say that they’d be prepared to have a lower salary to work for an ethical company.
- 45% of undergraduates study and go on work in the region in which they grew up. A further 24% return to work in their home region having studied elsewhere.
- 74% of last year’s graduates are employed in professional level jobs. The UK has the lowest level of graduate unemployment since 1977-78.
- Three years after graduation, more than 87% of graduates say that they are happy with the career to date.