Forum for the Future and UCAS have surveyed over 25,000 university applicants for the 2007-08 Future Leaders Survey sponsored by Friends Provident. They explained how they expect the world to change, what they really want to happen in the future and where they think action is needed.
The results paint a picture of their attitudes to the environment, the challenges facing humanity and the action they expect – and from whom. The results also highlight the fact that quality of teaching and reputation is still the key factor in applicants deciding on a higher education course and institution.
The world in 2032
Asked what life would be like in 2032, respondents painted a sobering picture of social and environmental degradation. The majority believe…
* Oil will be prohibitively expensive (89%)
* Climate change will be affecting their lives (85%)
* The frequency of natural disasters will have increased (80%)
* Inequality will have increased, both within the UK and between rich and poor countries (over 70%)
* The Amazon rainforest will have disappeared (61%)
* A nuclear weapon will have been used (53%)
Given these views it’s not surprising that over 78% of those university applicants asked believe significant change is needed if society is going to survive into the next century.
Environmentally friendly university?
The report provides some interesting insights about the factors taken into account when it comes to choosing a university or college it appears that quality of teaching and the reputation of the course is still a key factor in an applicant’s decision making.
* 54% said that the quality of teaching was ‘very important’ in choosing a university or college.
* Those who said that reputation of the course was ‘very important’ was 44%.
* 43% said it was the reputation of the institution that was ‘very important’.
* 35% stated that it was ‘very important’ that teaching methods would be the reason they would choose a course or higher education institution.
The survey also highlighted that environmental performance is still not seen as a high priority for applicants.
Only 6% based their application on how seriously the institution takes global development issues and 5% on environmental issues. Although a substantial 42% would like to receive more information than they currently do from higher education institutions and their sustainability work.
Who’s doing what to bring about change?
Only 16% think that the government is doing ‘a lot’ to bring about change, compared to an alarming 6% for business. Less than a quarter (23%) agree that Gordon Brown is genuinely committed to tackling climate change. For David Cameron the figure is 22%.
Legislation seems to be favoured as a means of delivering change. A surprising 41% think individual carbon quotas would be good for them personally, and nearly half (49%) think these would benefit society as a whole.
What will make them happy?
Our future leaders were asked what factors will be important to their personal happiness in the next 10 years. The top seven are shown below.
% of respondents saying this will be ‘very important’ to their happiness in the next 10 years:
1. Having a job they find interesting (82%)
2. Spending time with family (68%)
3. Owning a home (46%)
4. Spending time with friends (46%)
5. Being in a long-term relationship (45%)
6. Having a job that contributes to society (40%)
7. Having a job that pays well (39%)