In recent years, the concept of attending university has seen unprecedented criticism.
The media focus on the inflation of course costs, the appointment and subsequent resignation of Toby Young, and the stripping of maintenance grants have painted a picture of university as an overrated pipe-dream for many potential applicants.
I feel that these narratives overlook the huge benefits of a university education, which can be enriching in many ways which are not directly evident.
For the vast majority of attendees, the attraction of university is that it affords students qualifications which will advance their career development.
For many professions, such as becoming a doctor or lawyer, a university education has always been necessary, but recent years have seen employers spanning many fields demanding degrees in their employers.
Now, ‘education to a degree level’ is a common requirement on many job vacancies, with a degree now serving as evidence of being able to work to a highly productive, detailed standard. In our current employment climate, it is near-impossible to penetrate many fields without a degree, and this trend looks to intensify in future.
Alongside the obvious opportunity to advance a potential career, the student experience also includes numerous enriching opportunities.
With contact hours shorter than a full time job, and outside study flexible, university is a time for many to explore their extra-curricular interests.
This is something nurtured by university unions, such as that at Leeds University, which offers over 300 clubs and societies for students to get involved in. University is a time not just for academic development, but also to try new sports, to discover new musical genres or to engage in niche hobbies which you would never be able to experiment with anywhere else.
The culture of learning and experimentation continues far beyond the lecture halls of specific institutions, it permeates the consciousness of the eager individuals which populate them.
This culture of self-development is instilled upon students from the very first day they arrive on university campuses.
The halls system brings together peers from the whole spectrum of social, economic and cultural backgrounds, and forges strong relationships between them.
It is in this shared group that they will learn how to do everything from budgeting to complex academia.
It is an experience which teaches every person exactly who they are, and gives them the tools to become exactly who they want to be.
Reece Parker is Editor-in-Chief of The Gryphon at Leeds University