There are of course plenty of alternatives to higher education. New figures show apprenticeships are becoming more popular as the cost of degrees rises, together with fewer job opportunities at the end of it.
Katie Rowlett has been to one of the region's largest employers, to see the apprenticeship scheme in action...
Today has been the biggest day so far in the lives of thousands of students across the region - A level results day.
Overall, top grades are slightly down but, as our Education Correspondent Richard Payne reports, there are still plenty of success stories...
The MP David Willetts is the Minister for Universities and Skills and spoke to ITV News West Country during a visit to UCAS in Cheltenham on Thursday:
Dom Anderson, Vice President of the National Union of Students, said students were reaping the benefits of going to university despite average debts of £26,000 and reports of student "poverty".
"It's completely worth it. University is a life-changing thing," Anderson told ITV News as many students found out today whether they had gained university places.
The chief executive of Ucas said students who applied late or got lower A-level grades than expected could still choose from a large selection of courses.
Mary Curnock Cook said:
We have nearly 30,000 courses which are advertising vacancies in clearing.
A lot of those will only be for people who have the very highest grades because the Government arrangements for funding mean that universities aren't limited as to how many of those they can recruit.
The reality is that there are vacancies across all sorts of courses and institutions.
So anybody who is applying late after they got their results or who didn't quite get what they wanted today, there are loads of opportunities for them to find out about what is available through our website.
Today’s results demonstrate the continued high achievement of students and the hard work of their teachers, irrespective of shifting goalposts and the many unfounded attempts to discredit the qualification.
It is however likely that in future years, as a result of the decoupling of AS-Levels from A-Levels as well as end to modularity, fewer disadvantaged students will continue in education.
The system should work to the advantage of these students, too, many of whom have considerable potential which should be nurtured.
Having taken youth unemployment over the 1 million mark, failed to protect the Educational Maintenance Allowance and greatly diminished careers advice services, it is hard to see what answers this Government is giving disadvantaged young people.
This lack of strategy is baffling particularly given the policy to increase the participation age in education to 18."
Nansi Ellis, head of education policy at the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, said after A-level results were revealed today:
We are worried about the Government's plans for new look A-levels.
We hope the Government rethinks its plans to return to a system of A-levels that only benefited an elite group of students who did well with an intensive regime culminating in one set of final course exams.
We think the current system, with AS-levels as the first half of an A-level, is better for the vast majority of students.
Britain's biggest teachers' union said Government education reforms will harm the prospects of disadvantaged students in the future.
After A-level results were revealed today, Christine Blower, General Secretary of the National Union of Teachers, said:
Today’s results demonstrate the continued high achievement of students and the hard work of their teachers.
It is likely that in future years, as a result of the decoupling of AS-Levels from A-Levels as well as end to modularity, fewer disadvantaged students will continue in education.
A-Levels are just one qualification in an overly complicated 14-19 education landscape, where there is a lack of parity of esteem between different types of qualification.
If A-Levels are the ‘gold standard’, then let us make our way towards a system in which vocational qualifications are afforded equal respect.
You have got your grades and got in to university - but what next?Read the full story ›