The impact on students will be fascinating because fee hikes will surely dissuade young people away from university degrees and force them to look at apprenticeships as the only viable way to earn and learn.

The current economic turbulence is the most frightening thing for the property industry at present and there are entirely external factors having surprising consequences on all property professionals.  The fundamentals are pretty dire. 

Unsustainable national debt leaves politicians stuck between a rock and a hard place because they can’t raise taxes or cut jobs without a negative impact. Interest rates are now blunt instrument and cannot be increased without severe consequences on both the public and businesses.

Civil unrest is simmering and has already boiled over once but will probably be back. The finger pointing of politicians and police at each other will not solve anything and only add an interesting sideshow.

The world economy adds to fears when the USA has been downgraded to an AA+ rating, creating new concerns that other sovereign risk profiles could follow - possibly triggering the implosion of the Euro. A number of European countries could find themselves in “administration” without any other country, or group of countries, being able to shore them up due to their own problems.  Like asking for directions from Donegal to Dublin, the answer is I wouldn’t start from here! 

But here we are and the sentiment and nervousness is making the stock markets behave as fiercely as the Titanic hitting the iceberg as one fear or problem flows into the chamber of the next fear or problem. The bottom line question is ‘will we see the economy crack and crash?’ 

The impact on students will be fascinating because, if all these fears play out in the next 12 months, fee hikes will surely dissuade young people away from university degrees and force them to look at apprenticeships as the only viable way to earn and learn.  The property industry, whilst comprising a good chunk of the UK Plc balance sheet, is in reality only a factor of production. 

From a personal perspective I hope that the industry embraces apprenticeships as a norm and valid alternative to full-time degree students.  The market is not getting any easier and there seems to be a fight to the brightest from GCSE onwards which is not necessarily the imperative. 

The profession needs a blend of cerebral and practicality and this can only be achieved with a balance of the widest ethnicity, sexuality and ability.  The days of 100 students on a surveying degree are long gone but certainly the need will not subside. 

Although, rather strangely, firms seem to not predict needs and demands very well and find themselves in a position whereby they lunge from boom to boom or recession to recession and it takes a while to match manpower to demand.  We can all live in hope that this ceases and the generational lottery erodes so we have a steady supply of jobs and recruits. The ability for someone who happens to hit the right year finds themselves in hot demand because of shortage of supply.

The challenge for the universities is the opposite side of same coin, getting the flow and numbers right at any point in time.  The necessity for lifelong learning, however, should give an aptitude for alternative educational demand being generated.

In summary, if the stock markets and financial gurus don’t steady the ship the property industry will only be pawns.  A double-dip recession is a real possibility but I have been a forecaster of that from 2008 and the prospects could mean a depression from the rebound and dire hopes for today’s graduates.