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Many of top 30 said 'no' to university


Ben McRedmond was a coding prodigy

Ben McRedmond was a coding prodigy

Ben McRedmond was a coding prodigy

For proof that a university education has little to do with success later in life, just talk to Andrew Lynch or Katie McGlade.

Both made our list of Ireland's top 30 brightest business minds under 30 - and neither have a degree. Executive recruiter Lynch went straight into business after completing his Leaving Cert. McGlade dropped out of a business course at Dublin Institute of Technology because the opportunity to grow her company Therapie proved too alluring.

Intercom's Ben McRedmond, meanwhile, was hired straight out of school. McRedmond didn't need a degree to prove his tech know-how - the amazing apps he developed in his teens did that for him.

Everyone from corporate giants like Ernst and Young to entrepreneurial legends like Richard Branson are now casting doubt on the value of a university degree, which 15 years ago was considered a prerequisite for entry into the professional classes.

In September, EY in the UK announced it would no longer require a degree from candidates for entry level positions.

Research found there was "no evidence to conclude that previous success in higher education correlated with future success in subsequent professional qualifications undertaken", the company said. EY Ireland has not made the same decision yet, but it is reviewing the concept.

Billionaire Richard Branson never went to college. He left school at 16, diving head first into business, starting with a record shop. Today Branson is worth €4.6bn, according to Forbes. He has successfully lobbied the UK government to give loans to start-up businesses in lieu of loans for university.

"People are learning that starting a business instead of going to university, getting out into the real world, is not a bad path," Branson told the Sunday Independent earlier this week when in Dublin to launch Virgin Media.

"If you want to become a doctor or a scientist or a lawyer then there is a lot to be said for going to university. If you want to become an entrepreneur, I am not sure it is worth it. Most likely, you'd be better getting on and creating a business and learning that way. The only danger is that if you don't succeed, you don't have that degree to fall back on."

Sarah McCabe

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