Belfast Telegraph

Friday 21 November 2014

Gap year takers' 'risky behaviours'

Gap year students are more likely to have skipped school, smoked cannabis and earned less by the age of 30, research suggests.

It reveals that youngsters who take a gap year before going to university are more likely to indulge in "risky behaviour".

These young people are also less likely to have faith in their own abilities and to feel in control of their own destiny, the government-funded research found.

It comes as rising numbers of students opt to defer university courses and take a year out before starting their degree.

The study, by the Centre for Analysis of Youth Transitions, examined the numbers, and backgrounds of thousands of gap year students. The data was drawn from two different surveys - one of young people who took a gap year in 2008/09 and another of individuals born in a particular week in April 1970.

The study found that over 20% of gap year takers had played truant by age 16, compared to just under 14% of those who went straight to university.

One of the surveys also suggested that just over 8% of gap year students had tried cannabis by the time they were 16, compared to under 6% of those who went straight on to degree courses, the report said.

And by the age of 30, youngsters who took gap years tended to earn less, with "significantly lower hourly wages and weekly earnings", it added. This could be because they have had fewer years after graduation to "reap the returns to their investment".

The report identified two types of young people who took gap years - those who planned to take a year out, and had typically applied and accepted a place at university before they left school, and those who took an unplanned break, who did not have a degree place before finishing school.

The report stated: "Compared to those who went straight to university, both groups of gap year takers had lower ability beliefs, were less likely to feel in control of their own destiny and were more likely to engage in a range of risky behaviours."

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