The short answer: nothing without work experience.
The long version...
Decades ago, degrees were only obtained by the elite and the lucky ones who had the opportunity and money to attend further education. Even with ever increasing tuition fees, people are choosing to scrimp and save for the valuable degree that will make them stand out from the competition.
The workplace is brutal, so you need to do whatever it takes to stand out from the rest. A degree, work experience, RELEVANT work experience in your chosen field, voluntary work- 70% of employers look at voluntary work- and extra-curricular activites and/roles e.g. president of karate club. This creates a well rounded person that a degree alone cannot make. This does not mean that a degree as worthless as some people make it out to be.
Some people, who went straight to work at a young age, said that they hit a glass ceiling on the way because they had no degree. It is silly because I would choose an employee with twenty years of work experience than one who learnt a textbook off by heart and wrote really quickly in an exam.
Instead of measuring a degree against the job industry, we could consider something far more important...the experience, period. A chance to ease into total independence, an opportunity to meet people from around the world, one more time to study your favourite subject, and freebies from companies looking for future employees. Most importantly, you have time to consider your future job. I entered university wanting to be an accountant, and will graduate this year before entering the world of interior design and decoration. The past two years of first-hand experience with accountancy firms and employees helped me realise that path is not for me. Looking on job websites was not good enough.
A degree is not the Holy Grail, but it is still worth a lot in today's world, especially a Masters or Doctors.
I graduated last summer, and when I was looking for a job I found that employers had mixed feelings as far as my degree was concerned.
I was looking for a job in something vaguely related to my degree course (English) which probably helped, and I had nterviews for things like technical authors, web related writing stuff in general, proof reading and copywriting.
Some employers were interested in finding out what kind of things I'd covered in my degree, how the course was divided, what I'd written about. One even wanted a copy of an essay I'd written. However, others didn't even mention the fact that it said on my CV I had a degree. I don't know whether that was because they just wanted the candidate to have a degree in general (showing dedication, own motivation, organisation and ability to meet deadlines - basically just the assumed skills of a degree), or whether they simply didn't care.
However, overall in every single interview and application, employers and recruiters and agencies were all far more interested in the work experience I had and the details of my previous jobs than they were in my degree. The experience was relevant, and that probably played a part, but some places were even more interested in my volunteer work than in my degree. I have a lot of friends who have graduated and are still unable to find jobs - partly because of the recession, but also partly because of lack of good experience. There are many companies that have graduate recruitment schemes, but unless you're on the ball very early and have it all planned out they are generally quite difficult to get on. It's also hard knowing what you want to do and which direction to take after university, so these might not be suitable for most people anyway.
My conclusion is that degrees are stepping stones to other places, whether that's a first job, a teacher training course, or an indication of a certain skill set. A lot depends on where your degree is from and how well you did when looking at them in general, and this makes a lot of difference as to whether it's a 'good' or 'bad' thing. A degree is not the key to finding a good job, being promoted more quickly, earning more money etc., except as how it helps to contribute to the overall picture of you.
I do believe that a bad degree is worse than no degree at all, because it tells potential employers or other education establishments that you tried and failed. Someone who has spent the last three years gaining a good amount of work experience may be perceived as equally intelligent but not having had the opportunity to go to university, and would be in a stronger position.
Overall, I think the question posed for this topic is too vague because it depends on the context too much. The university, the course, the grade, the reasons for using or needing a degree, the individual employers etc. all change and vary so much. At the end of the day you can only see it in terms of whether it is worth something to you. And in my case, it definitely is.
Are degrees worth having these days? I'm not sure as the degree I have has no relation to the job I currently do. I work in sales admin yet have a degree in fine art and design studies! I did well at school and really enjoyed art which was noticed by my parents and teachers who obviously pushed for me to attend college.
I made the decision to attend university as I believed it would lead to better career prospects, instead I ended up in debt and struggled to find work at the end of my course. Numerous interviews and careers advise did nothing except leave me feeling despondent and wondering if spending 3 years of my life back in the classroom had been worth it.
Luckily at the time of completing my course I already had a weekend job which offered extra hours when I needed them so I wasnt reduced to scrounging from my parents to make ends meet. I ended up temping for a while in London then happened across a permanent job in marketing which paid fairly well so I did the sensible thing and accepted. Sadly I was made redundant 4 years later but thats another story.
I have plenty of friends from school who didnt attend uni and have done fairly well in life but then I guess it depends how ambitious and determined you are to make something of yourself, was I determined enough back then? who knows, I was only 20 when I left uni.
I dont regret going to uni as I made some great friends and had fun along the way, I just dont know if I would recommend it now seeing as tuition fees and student loans seem to burden many people when they leave, I was lucky enough not to worry about either during my course. If you're thinking of going to uni anytime soon I would carefully consider your other options first as having a degree these days isnt everything.
I agree with another of the views written, University is totally worth it if you choose the right course.
I started a nursing degree straight from school. In first year, I met tons of great people, had tons of fun but never done much work. In second year I was struggling greatly and realised I loved my social life but did not like the course and definetly did not want to be a nurse. I made excuses for not handng in essays and failed lots of exams :( I talked to my parents and stupidly listend to them saying that I should stick it out until I got my degree. In third year I struggled even more and after discussion with my tutors and some of my peers I decided to pack it in. I left and went and worked full time for a few months....
....and then got the itch to go back to university.....
But I wanted to start again, do a different course something I would enjoy lots and that I felt would give me a fabulous career. I have now started studying business, Im not getting any funding because I have already had funding the first time I went to university.
Now I am working part time and gaining fabulous marks in my business degree course! Well worth it and I have realised that this is what I want to do for the rest of my life...not quite sure what field but once I have my degree I feel there will be many doors opened for me!
I think this is slightly different in my case.
The reasons I chose to go to uni were:
*I needed further musical training to be able to command a decent pay as a music perepetetic teacher or private.
*The best music teachers are at music colls/unis
*The tuition for very experienced teachers is very expensive, so I found a uni that would include it as part of my overall fee
*I wanted some life experience rather than just working 9-5
*I wanted to get out of my small town, meet some new people, have some cool experiences, and live away from home
My degree is very important to me, this is not the trend amongst people I have met. A lot of people I know have their parents pay for everything. Yes this keeps you out of debt, but they arent really learning anything about how to live independently or how much they value their degree. I pay for everything and have taken out student loans to cover my living expenses. I also have a job.
I hope to find a job as a flute teacher and performer after uni, and I have been told that having a music degree will help me in this. If it doesnt make any difference, I dont think I will mind, as I have had so much fun, learnt so many new things and made some really great friends.
The whole university experience was brilliant. Moving away from home meant I had cook, do the washing, shopping etc and made me appreciate my parents more. But was it worth going to university? Did it give me a better job?
It's a tricky one because I did manage to get onto a graduate scheme with a reputable company. The starting salary was ok but after 8 months of really not enjoying my job I felt I had to move on. I struggled to find another job that specifically wanted graduates and ended up taking a reasonable job in a completely different industry. It was irrelavant that I had a degree. To be honest part of my problem was that I did a Chemistry degree and chose not to take it any further as a career. Why bother doing a chemistry degree? Well, I enjoyed it at school and did well and did hope to persue a career in that field but the starting pay and even with a few years experience was just rubbish and I couldn't afford to life on it living away from home. A degree is a degree these days unless you do a vocational degree. A dentistry is obviously worth while as is a degree in medicine etc. I guess what I am trying to say is that if you do a vocational degree then you are set but if you do a general degree then don't be suprised if you can't get a graduate job. You may just come out of university in debt and then start at the same level as somone who didn't attend university. In fact I know of a few people who left school and got a job and worked their way up and ended up better off jobwise than someone with a degree. Granted you learn so many new skills at university but the days have changed and so many people go to university. It doesn't mean the same as it used too! If I were to do it all over again I would choose a vocational course.
Its a perfect storm on clearing week. Record breaking A-Level results, record breaking demand for places from all ages and Nationalities and big cuts in places, Middle-England not happy there kids are not getting into their prefered uni. Now they know how smart working-class kids feel. With pay-and-dislay uni on its way non fee paying poor students who tend to take pride degrees at the weaker univerities are being squeezed out and rich foreign students getting their places. Only 46 of Oxbridges 10.567 student in-take last year were from kids who took free school meals at some point in thier schooling.
I think it's fair to say that many degrees are not worth the paper they are written on and would be better off in the University of Andrex. But our ex ruling junta wanted 50% of us to have a degree by 2050 and so the relentless push to get people completely unsuited into university and higher education continued. First we had the 97% pass rates for A-Levels, the free golden ticket to universit. Then we had the 30% drop-out rates at the old polytechniques as these kids were fed through the other end with no degree because of financial issues and students not ready for the rigors of the course. The Tory dream is not 50% participation, university once again set to be a middle-class right of passage where money not brains buy entrance to.
A headline news story in the Independent got me interested in this debate for ciao when I learnt that degree standards and universities morals are dropping further as they come under pressure to pass more students to increase their funding and reputation in the world. Professor Geoffrey Alderman, former chairman of the Academic Council at the University of London, has blown the whistle (presumably he was fired, so take this with that in mind..) on the increasing amount of allowance of acceptance of plagiarized work in student's work to help them pass.
Latest figures (in the Independent!) show that that students awarded a first has gone up over 100% in the last ten years from 16,708 in 1996 to 36,645 in 2006-at time when the undergraduate population has only risen by 40%. The same professor makes the point that universities have been particularly lenient with the increasingly lucrative overseas student market which universities now rely heavily on for sources of income-so much so that they turn a blind eye to plagiarism and cheating in some cases.
British universities currently rake in about 1.5 million from students outside the EU and numbers have soared by nearly 45% in the past five years to over 150,000 foreign students paying full fees here today. Only one of our top universities has seen a drop in first awarded in the last five years. Foreign students are being offered places over Brtish kids on mass now in our universities.
The 'Prof' makes the point that many universities chancellors whisper in their teachers and lecturer's ear that awarding more first class degrees will push their university further up the national and international league tables and so increase lucrative full-paying student intake and funding.
Of the 19,299 recorded cases of plagiarism in 2008, just 143 were upheld. With google technology you would have thought it was easy to prove, especially with the software available to higher education.
The study by the 'Higher Education Academy and Joint Information Systems Committee' (takes a breath) who did the number crunching on reported copying also found that acceptance of plagiarism was more prevalent in the old polytechnics. It was also surprisingly high in the top Russell Group universities outside of Oxbridge. Because students, and parents of, now have to pay the bulk of fees the kids are cutting and pasting the bits that will help them pass and so get value for money. The three year booze up crowd of the nineties are on their way out and the internet generation are on their way in.
Now the real issue here is the one that makes me most angry. I wanted to study journalism at a good university and I was rejected because of my English skills. But the same level of English skills on application doesn't seem to be applied to lucrative fee paying foreign nationals. As university is one of the most popular loop-holes and routes into the UK to avoid our stringent immigration rules an increasing number are getting access to our courses with poor English skills, skill levels our own kids would not be admitted to university with. Places that should go to British citizens but can't pay are going to people who can pay but with lesser abilities. Again, its is a hard fact that the more first and seconds a British university awards the higher up the table it goes and the more funding it gets.
Another problem with overseas students in Britain's places of learning is the less lucrative EU group that study here and equally plentiful. Because they are in the Eurozone they can apply to study at British universities under the same conditions as British citizens, meaning they too can apply for student grants to help pay fees and living costs. Problem is with that is there's a loop-hole where they can go home after graduation and so unlikely to have their debts chased up. This is happening a lot more and the problem is getting bigger. Of course, we the Brits can go the other way and exploit this rule in polish universities, but clearly they wouldn't teach us in English, and as English is the universal language the vast majority of Eastern Europeans that want anon eastern European university education are coming here, you guys again picking up the bill.
From the same newspaper article we learn that the average cost for a degree in the U.K if you aren't from a wealthy family and so have to use the grant system is now up to £33,000 for a three year course, money that you have to start paying back once you earn more than £11,000 pounds per annum. Student debt in the United Kingdom currently stands at around £22 billion pounds. This is up an incredible 32% up on the year before, 2008. Clearly someone isn't paying back their debts. What students may not realize is that the Student Loan Company has put up their interest payments from 1.7% to 3.4% a year on the sly, meaning more bills for kids trying to get on the employment ladder. My brother graduated four years ago and now pays £60 per month to the SLC people...
But the real question is just how valuable is having a degree these days? We know that people that do graduate are far more likely to earn bigger salaries, but we also know that's not the case for female graduates so much. They tend to get married and many lose out salary wise when they return to working in a different field or back to their profession at a lower level. The female employee in the work place dominates part-time work positions, graduates or not, because of babies-hence the 18% pay discrepancy. Male graduates, the major degree level salary earners, whether they like that responsibility or not, do earn much more than their non degree male counterparts.
The type of degree wasn't an issue in the nineties, of course, everything from Science and Science Fiction at Swansea to a 'Performing Street Arts course at Brighton of offer, the three year piss up the only college course in town. But once you have to pay for your own education the more practical degrees were quickly back in fashion...ones that would lead to employment. Arts & Humanities graduates have comfortably the highest graduate unemployment rates after one year in the job market at 12% and so not surprising people are turning away from them, a course that could be done in the evenings if you ask me, whilst the much scoffed at media studies degrees have the lowest career take up by graduate numbers in any category. The idea of going to university to help get on Big Brother is all but history now.
Back in 1992, the UK government recognised that higher education needed to be made more accessible (as it still does today). The supposed solution was to turn the polytechnics into new universities. Before I go any further, I'd like to say that in my opinion, everyone should have the opportunity to enter higher education - if they are capable, and have the desire and commitment to learn. I believe, however, that the polytechnic/university system worked better before the '92 change.
Polys provided the more practical, 'hands on' education, while universities concentrated on more 'academic' teaching methods. Ideally, it makes sense to balance the two, with the style of learning biased towards the talents, ability, and preference of the student concerned. As opposed to streamlining all courses unrealistically, spewing out a million identikit graduates, which is what happens now.
I feel that vocational training is extremely valuable, as are academic courses, and both are needed. I went to a 'traditional' university. My brother - who is 12 years older than me, and much more down to earth - went to an old-style polytechnic. Even in the midst of the national recession he graduated and got a good a job which has served him well. He is now at the top of his field. Although I am now a retail manager (which I am proud to be), I intend to make use of my degree later on and become a lecturer. I've always been very academic. My brother hasn't. That doesn't change the fact that we both had an education that was appropriate for us as individuals.
There were major research funding issues that limited polytechnic research, I do understand that. I also realise that polytechnics were stigmatised in public perception. I feel we've turned UK higher education into a debt-ridden mess that is failing us all, in the longrun. I don't see that turning all HE institutions into universities has patricularly helped students enter the job market successfully.
I remember a friend graduating with a first class degree in engineering... and ending up back at McDonalds as a Crew Member within 6 months.
Meanwhile, the university I attended - a high performing institution - sits literally next door to the town's former polytechnic, one of the botton 5 'universities' in the country. My alma mater has recently developed the 'Way Ahead Scheme'. The university admissions people visit schools in the local area. They offer places to 14 year olds who hail from the university home town, regardless of their academic achievement, or lack theroef. Pardon me, but that's not what I slaved my arse off to get to uni for. It's a kick in the teeth for anyone who actually earned their place at the university, and I find it extremely insulting to local kids too. Would you want anything to do with an institution that assumed you were too dense to get in on your own merit?
Ever get the impression you've been sold down the river?
(Perhaps I'm taking slight liberties with this topic; but I want to discuss university funding - which I think bears on the issue because there's an obvious connection between what the degree's worth and how much we're willing to pay - I do touch directly on both questions) Some people have very strong views on either side - or at least on the anti-fee side (I?m sure some of those proposing to charge students more for education do feel strongly that they should pay for the educational benefits they?re getting, but I believe others only hold this view for practical reasons - the state can?t fully fund universities without politically impossible levels of tax rises). There are a few things I do know I have opinions on though. DIFFERENTIAL TOP UP FEES Firstly, the main issue that has been on the agenda recently is ?top-up fees?. At present, everyone makes a *contribution* to their fees - currently £1,100 I believe. (This figure is means tested - those from poorer backgrounds are exempted as their Local Education Authority pays for them, but in principle the £1,100 is paid). A government proposal is to allow universities to charge up to £3,000 - but it will be up to them to decide how much they want to charge. The anticipation is that universities like Oxford and Cambridge will be able to charge the full £3,000, but others will presumably charge less. The problem with this is that it threatens to create a multi-tier education system. At the moment, Oxford is already heavily criticised for not having enough students from state schools. I believe the ratio is about 50:50 between private and state school pupils - which in fact roughly reflects application ratios. There are positive steps to encourage those from poorer or not ?traditionally Oxbridge? backgrounds too. A scheme of ?Oxford bursaries? introduced last year gives the poorest (I think anyone who doesn?t pay fees and gets the full student loan) a grant of
up to £2,000 over their three years. This is supposed to be a positive move for access - but what would happen if we told these people they would have to pay an extra £6,000 in fees? Of course, some people think this isn?t really about access - it?s about upper middle class students in Oxford not wanting mummy and daddy to have to pay more. In fact, I know some people here who say ?My parents can afford to pay more, and would happily do so. Why shouldn?t they?? There is a practical problem, however, as not everyone?s parents will want to pay for their university education even if they can afford it (or at the least, they might pressure them towards ?more affordable? places). This leads on to the next (major) point: HIGHER FEES It has been suggested by some ?mid-table? universities that if government plans for top-up fees were introduced, they would be forced to charge the full £3,000 themselves anyway - both to maximise their revenues and avoid becoming ?second-class?, ?cheap? universities. Access issues would now be not just about putting the poor off the ?best? universities, but putting them off altogether. Even if some system of means-tested help remains, it has to be remembered it won?t be perfect, and fear of debt will put some people off. The key debate over fees is whether students should pay for their own education, or whether education is a right that should be free for all. It is true that anything provided free tends to be over-subscribed. As it is, apparently you can do a degree in David Beckham studies! Without meaning to demean the usual suspects (e.g. media studies at some ex-polytechnic), because not all such courses are bad, there are certainly some degrees out there that aren?t really worth much (and arguably devalue other degrees). I actually think part of the problem is the government?s desire to see 50% of young people in university. Now if 50% want to go to university, great; but it isn?t for everyone and I
think a target is bad. Those who support fees say students get the benefit, so why shouldn?t they pay? Well, it?s true students benefit - but this applies to primary schools too, why don?t we pay for those? Secondly, if it means students will benefit in terms of better jobs, then again they will pay something in higher income taxes later in life. Finally, it is not just students themselves that benefit - their skills and education benefit the country as a whole. Maybe in some cases this is less obvious - but doctors and teachers are a prime example, both of whom have to do not just three year degrees, but further university education. So if both the individual student and society as a whole benefit, it seems right that they each contribute to the total cost - the question is in what proportion? I can?t give an exact answer here. One thing I do want to point out is that students give something more valuable than money - their time, commitment and hard work. I?m currently doing a Masters course. By the time I finish - despite a grant for my Masters - I?ll be over £12,000 in debt, just to the student loans company (and this is despite parental help). If I?d left school after A-levels, I could probably have got a job paying over £10,000pa. In the five years I?ve been at university, I would?ve earned £50,000+ and hopefully worked my way up the corporate ladder a little. Obviously I?d have spent most of that money, but I wouldn?t have the debts either. How much more would I have to earn with my degree to be financially better off? And even if I get a good graduate job (salaries starting at, say, £20,000 and hopefully rising), how long will it take? The government bombard us with figures about how much more graduates earn. But these figures are generally taken from a past generation, where a degree was rarer and also probably implied other advantages (a rich, middle class background and contacts). Nowadays not everyone with a degree even gets a g
raduate job? ONE OTHER OBJECTION I don?t have figures on me, but some fees supporters point out that the government spends a lot more per university student than per primary school student, and suggest it would be more equitable to change this. This argument is flawed, I believe. It works by simply dividing government expenditure on universities by the number of students. Universities aren?t just schools though. A lot of that money goes to support academic research - keeping Britain at the forefront of modern development (hopefully). Also universities almost always have to provide services like meals, accommodation, student support (counselling) and the like. Even when it comes to how much is spent on tuition, it is obvious that top level academics (most of whom have done at least 7 years university education themselves, remember) who teach at university are rarer and need more pay than primary school teachers. PAY LATER Perhaps a sensible proposal is to remove up-front fees, and charge students for their education afterwards, by a ?graduate tax?. One other op here proposed students take a 3-5 year break *before* university, and use that to earn money to see them through. Aside from the fact the learning break is undesirable, this seems inefficient. Most of those students wouldn?t be able to get decent jobs. At least, they should be able to earn more after their study. A far better proposal is to loan them money for their study, then charge it back out of the higher income they get in the next 3-5 years. To be fair, such a graduate tax would have to hit only those that didn?t pay up-front fees (those of us that had already paid for their education wouldn?t want to pay again!) There is still a further difficulty though. Would this tax be a set amount (say £6,000) or based on future income? If it?s a set amount, that will penalise those who chose vocational rather than income-driven careers, and we don?t (in my opinion) wan
t to force every bright young student to become and investment banker rather than a doctor or teacher. On the other hand, we could make the tax depend on future income - e.g. an extra 1% income tax. This will have the (presumed) advantage of making those who benefit more pay more. On the other hand though, those who opt out of their full earning potential will escape paying - even though the state has paid just as much for their education. If the state has given both students A and B the education and skills necessary to earn £40,000, but A realises this potential while B would rather only take a part time job he enjoys and only earns £15,000, is it right B pays less? (This highlights a particular problem with those who opt out of work altogether, to be house-wives/husbands, carers, charity workers and the like) A RADICAL PROPOSAL I?ve been reading about one proposal recently to give all citizens $80,000 at adulthood (an American idea, obviously). I won?t go into the exact details of justification and implementation, but it?s designed to give everyone a fair start in life. People would be able to use this for higher education if they wanted - but alternatively they could invest it, use it for a pension or income-supplement, an emergency fund (if, say, they lost their job), to start their own business, whatever. This proposal has initial attraction. Everyone has a chance to go to university - and no one will be excluded because they can?t afford it - but those who choose not to go will still be given just as much state help to what they do want. It?s already been pointed out though that private individuals shouldn?t bear the whole cost of an education that benefits wider society. Even if everyone had such a grant (around £50,000) many would be reluctant I?m sure to spend half of it on a university education. It has the advantage of ensuring everyone can afford the education, but it still makes them pay for it all - which, I have argued, is wrong. CONCLUSION Obviously there are no easy answers. Ideally, perhaps, education would be free and open to all. I recognise that even if this is ideal, there are other needs for the government?s limited finances - such as primary education or healthcare. I have accepted that students should pay some of the cost of their education, but pointed out they do this anyway in giving their time (forgoing income) and living costs. I believe the state should continue to pay a considerable bulk of university costs - through higher taxes if necessary - and resist the temptation to increase student fees to American/private levels. (Am I recommending fees or what? Who knows? Don't worry about the rating...) (p.s. Comments very welcome - I'm happy to have a debate going on this...)
I would like to contribute to the debate regarding the validity and worth of a degree in the modern British workforce. When I was a teenager in the 1990's I was encouraged at every opportunity to get my A levels and then proceed to university. Careers advisers, teachers and family were among the many people who encouraged me to travel down this route. I was told by just about everyone in my formative years that a university education would open unlimited doors of possibilty and opportunity to me. However, I know deeply regret my decision to stay in education. University only got me into incredible debt and did nothing to improve my chances of gaining worthwhile employment. In fact for over 4 years now I have been struggling in low paid, insecure jobs that I could have easily done if I had not stayed on in the educational system. In fact all my friends who left school at either 16 or 18 are earning at least £10,000 more than me per year because when I was out getting drunk - they were out in the real world gaining valuable employment experience and rising up through the ranks of their own companies! In fact if I wanted to be completely cynical and would state that the only reason the government is expanding the chance to go to university for most young people is that it brings down the unemployment figures! Twenty years ago a degree really meant something and you were guaranteed a really good career. Nowadays you need a degree to say "Do you want fries with that!" I think it is really sad that the worth of a degree has devalued so much as government has lowered the standards so much (in the past few years it has become possible to get onto a university degree course with a D and two N grades!)If these people do not meet the grade they should not be allowed to take a degree - it's as simple as that. However, I fear it is more about 'bums on seats' rather than maintaining the worldwide respectibility of a British degree.
Yes, I do feel cheated and bitter that I worked so hard to get my 2:1 and when I came out all I was qualified to do was work in a call centre with people without GCSE's! I think I have a right to be bitter - I feel that I and a whole generation of youg people have been conned and badly advised by both Conservative and Labour governments. Finally, I want to make people aware of the international perspective to degrees. I studied the second year of my degree at the University of Minnesota in the United States. Many of my American friends who were on the same degree course as me are now in good careers. One American friend in particular cannot understand why British employers treat graduates so disrespectfully. In the US a degree is seen as a great achievement and it is much easier to be given a break by employers. Over here due to our satuated graduate labour market employers will think nothing of interviewing 500 graduates for 30 positions! Clearly there is something fundamentally wrong with our society in this country that we do not reward sucess or distinguish between young people who have really made an effort to succeed educationally and those who have made no effort? Since graduating in 1998 I worked for 2 years in various agencies foe £4.50-£5 per hour. After two years of no hope I joined the Police out of desperation. Obviously I joined for the wrong reasons and have since left - I am now back to being exploited by employment agencies with little hope of ever getting into a graduate position. Has anybody else suffered similar experiences to this? Does anybody else feel that it is unacceptable to be lied to and to be in so much debt without any realistic prospects?
I am a second year law student at Swansea University, and I am meant to be doing my coursework! I am annoyed at the people who say if you get a degree you have shown a level of attainment, and employers will find you adult, and well rounded and adjusted. It's just not true. In a culture where more and more of us are obtaining degrees, the certificate itself is not enough. If I had got into Cambridge or Bristol, or some of the other top 10 universities I probably wouldn't be worried, I've heard MI5 recruit off Warwicks politics course!, but for the general university populus, if you want to find a job at the end of three or four years you have got to SHINE, and brightly. Take every opportunity with both hands and ring out all the advantages you can from it. Do Duke of Edinborough Awards, DO volunteer, Do join the drama group, Do attend all the debates that the debating society provide. All of these thing will help you with future employers, it is no longer enough to live off mum and dad and just pass. Get a job alongside, take every opportunity you get, analise each success and failure, know how to talk about them to show your strengths and weaknesses in interviews. Be self assured but not too over confident, after all most employers aren't looking for someone who knows it all, more for someone who has the right skills to adapt to the job in question, and the ability to absorb information quicker than a natural sponge! Don't be afraid to admit areas where you need help or improving no-one is perfect, and most employers realise this and are looking for people with transferable skills. There is no need to be a serious prude and make camp in the library, but a good degree is better as it is what SOME employers look for first. For example with Law you need 21 points at a-level, and at 2:1 degree before SOME companies will look for your name! Take care, and take it seriously, university is not all Sex Drug
s Rock and Roll if you want to survive afterwards.
Here are some interesting facts to start of with. Currently, around 25% of young people go to university. The government wants to increase this to 50%. Yet the national audit commission tells us that each year around 30,000 students will drop out of their degree course because they are not up to the required standard, and there is currently an increasing shortage in the skilled trades. Have we honestly reached a stage where the economy demands so many people to have degrees? Well, to be honest, no we haven’t. We are at the moment in the ridiculous situation where there is a glut of graduates who cannot get jobs because their degrees do not equip them for the “real world”, and leave them being labelled as “over qualified” by many recruiters. This has come about mainly due to the change that took place a few years back, when all the old polytechnics were renamed universities to fit in with the prevailing educational idea that everyone must be seen to achieve – and after all, all universities degrees are equal, aren’t they? This is quite obviously not true. Time and again college league tables how up many failing universities with drop out rates of up to 40% and poorly educated graduates amongst those who stay the course – all of which were the polytechnics. Now, before any of you start to yell at me, I would like to point out that not all polytechnics are the same – some (like Northumbria University for example) have quite rightly been given university status; I just believe that polys should have been made to earn the honour, that’s all. The lower ranked colleges are desperate to fill course for financial reasons, and as a result are letting obviously unsuitable people onto pointless programmes – some of these places need students so badly their entry requirements are pretty much the ability to find the front doors of the place. Just imagine how much worse this going to get if the g
overnment has its way and doubles the number of people with degrees. This situation also has four major knock-on effects. Firstly, it means that a degree is simply not worth what it used to be, which means secondly that an increasing number of graduates are taking up postgraduate degrees (myself included actually) in an effort to make themselves stand out from the crowd. And thirdly, it means that more people are getting into debt – some of whom never getting a qualification out of it, so ending up poorer and worse of than before they went to university. The increase of people going to uni simply because they can has also meant a drop in the number of students taking up courses in areas such as plumbing, electrical work and other skilled trades. I heard recently that plumbers are now in such short supply in some areas of the country that they can charge up to £50 an hour and turn away more work than they take on! So what is a degree worth these days? As far as I can see, a good degree (2:1 or higher) from a good university is still worth doing if you want to enter graduate only professions such as accountancy, teaching, armed forces officer training, etc, or to get access to graduate training programmes. We have to accept that they don’t have quite the status that they used to though. I also think that a degree isn’t always necessarily the best option for everybody who leaves school – there are plenty of smart people out there who simply aren’t academically inclined, and failing at university can leave them poorer and with a sense of failure which actually goes against the “achievement for all” theory that the government is pursuing. Achievement comes in many different forms, and the only way 50% of the population are going to get degree is if standards are brought down – which really defeats the object of a degree in the first place!
What is my degree to me? Time, money, headaches and a bit of paper. I know I sound bitter about this, but there is good reason in my opinion. Those of you who have read my work before will know I don't think highly of the education system, but I gave it another shot by going to University. I gave up a full time job, in which i was well up in the hierarchy to go to University so that I could, in theory, get a really good, well payed job. So I applied and got into Manchester University to do a single honours degree in Archaeology. So I started out and everything was peachy. The work load was not all that bad, and I was getting on fine. It wasnt until I got well into the swing of things that I noticed how little annoyances were starting to build up. People who wernt doing the work got away with lame excuses, and passed. Now into the final year, and they are still there. People that never turn up, always hand in things late, and dont give a toss about anything other than getting drunk and stoned as much as possible. These people are still here and flourishing. The University is quite happy to turn the other way and take their money if they have a little slip of paper that says they are having problems at home etc. Now dont get me wrong, I dont have anything aginst people that are genuine, but Universites just dont seem to care about finding out the truth. As you can imagine both myself and many others in my year are very upset and angry about this. We have complained but nothing has been done. The people that work hard and the people that do not are getting through regardless. It makes all that we work for almost worthless if others get through for no effort at all. No wonder so many people are getting degrees nowadays if it is this easy. This is one of my personal hates when degrees are concerned. What people who work hard achive seems all the less because others that dont work but still get the
ir degrees through deception and laziness. So putting that aside for the moment, let us get back to the whole "job" issue. We go to do a degree to get a better job. That is one of the main points is it not? For many now, this is not happening. Doing a degree takes a huge lump of money from YOUR pocket, and so you assume you will get a return. But is this the case? For many people nowadays the return that a degree gives them is next to nothing. I have found out that (as I have said in another opinion) it depends very much what type of job you want to go into, and what type of degree you do. If you do a management or other such mainstream degree you are up and running. Many companies will probably want to snap you up. On the other hand if you go into a specialised subject like archaeology etc then you are in for a dissapointment. In this case you will find that you either have to still go for a mainstream job with low wages (probably less than £15,000 a year) or you have to go back to University and continue to study. This going back to University for more study does also have its pitfalls, as I have found out all too reciently. To my knowlege you dont get student loans for MA or Phd work, and scholarships are very hard to get, and even then they will probably only cover rent. So in order to go onto more further education you have to first get a job and save up! Can you hear me laughing folks? I laugh at the irony of life - or should I say the system? I do a degree to get a job..so i spend money (through the loan) to get a degree, then i cant get the job i want because i am not qualified enough because everyone has one now it seems. So I look into doing more University work only to find that I cant afford it, but i cant get a job either. Ahh, hear me laugh. So this is more of a warning to you all. Choose carefully what degree you want to do, and how you will finance yourself in the
future. Degrees will not guarentee you a job, in fact it might actually hinder you by "over qualification"! (hear me laughing again?) University can be a great experience, but the outcome can be far less than you desired, or needed. You spend thousands of pounds on this.. make sure it pays off in the end. Dont be stuck like I am, broke and without prospects. Think things through, and choose carefully. I am now going to try and start a writing career. A lot of the time practice is what gets you ahead, and I am doing that... make sure you do, and consider internships instead of some degrees. Write back and tell me of your experiences or thoughts on university. Your words help us all.
As a new student I like to think my degree will be of some use. In my gap year I applied for many jobs, with good GCSE's and A Levels(AAC) and got only one interview, so I don't think it is true that it is easy to get a job with just A Levels. I am studying English and Philosophy and hope that these subjects will help me with my reasoning and writing. I don't know exactly what I want to go into after graduating but I don't feel pressured into making a decision at the moment. So many people have degrees nowadays that for many jobs they are a pre-requisite. I did read an article in a newspaper recently claiming that employers have created, or changed the names of, lower jobs to allow for the higher numbers of graduates. Apparantly 1/2 of all graduates feel their degree is not being put to use. Personally I feel a person can make a degree what they want it. You can go to uni and study hard, get work experience and do interesting things in your (long!)holidays. or you could just go, do your degree, drink, and then complain that you can't get a decent job at the end. one important thing about university life is the non-academic opportunities it offers such as sports clubs, student newspapers and work placements. Take advantage! When I was looking for courses to apply for and looking at the entrance offers for different universities, it irritated me that there were certain institutions offering places on courses for grades as low as DD. Maybe I'm wrong, but to me if a person gets DD then they are not up to the standard of university. It lowers the standard of degrees for those who work hard and do have the ability. For non students who complain about students using "their tax money"-hello? Didn't you know? There are no grants anymore-ok, we get a loan, but it has to be paid back! If anything, that means students work harder as they want to get out of their course what
they have put into it! I am enjoying my time at university so far, the subjects I am studying are interesting and make me think. It's a pleasure to be taught by experts who are genuinely interested in what they teach. Ok, in my career(whatever that may turn out to be) I may not use Plato's theories, or quote from Shakespeare, but a degree is a measure of study at a higher level. Obviously it would be nice for me to work in a field where I could use this knowledge (eg, writing, teaching, librarianism) but if I don't, I won't see my degree as a waste! I'm proud of being at university! A degree is what you make is, obviously a 1st or a 2:1 looks better than a 3rd, as does relevant work experience instead of 3 years propping a bar up. Tony Blair's aim is to have a 3rd of all young people in higher education. I don't know whether this is wise. I believe that everyone has a right ot education, but I think that there should be different classes of qualifications. To me, it just doesn't seem right that 2 degrees, one from (made-up name!) Moss Side College University (or whatever) with an entrance requirement of 2 grade D's at A Level, and another degree in the same subject at a well renowned uni with an entrance requirement of AAB, should be regarded as the same. I have heard that employers now look at the uni you have gone to and whether the course you did is renowned there, rather than just looking at the fact that you have a degree. Maybe I sound snobby and elitist. I don't care. I'm not from a well off background and I've got to uni because I worked bloody hard for my A Levels and I enjoy the course I'm on. I do find uni work challenging. I just think that someone who gets low grades at A Levels should not have the option of going to uni as it demeans those of us that have done well. If you disagree, please leave a comment!
I joined University 4 years ago now. I went there to study Mathematics and Statistics as I had done very well at these subjects at A-Level. I stayed for one year and enjoyed myself immensely. However at the end of the year I found out that I hadn't actually passed. Well I decided that I had tried my hardest and to not even pass the first year was a big surprise. The degree course was basically too hard for most as over 1/3 of people appeared to be doing resits in the summer and a lot re-sat the year. I decided to leave and get myself a job. Which I did and I have now worked for HSBC for almost 3 years. In that time I have found it very difficult to progress as although I have 4 A-levels they don't seem to count for anything. People treat me as if I'm some kind of failure as I don't have a degree. We have a management training programme at work that you can go on if you pass a degree (any degree) and within 2 years you can be a manager earning 18K+. Most other companies will offer more as HSBC is a notoriously low payer. I have just been on the Friends Reuinted website and I read up on a number of people I knew and saw what they were now doing. All 30 that I looked at had graduated and all were earning a lot of money working in roles in banks etc. after doing a degree in sports studies or biology. Basically a subject unrelated to their degree. Some degrees are vital to progressing in your chosen career. Especially if that chosen career is Medecine or something similar. My friend has just graduated after completing a Podiatry degree and is now earning 17K. At the same time another frind has just blagged a job as a financial advisor earning 25K. He doesn't have a degree nor was he qualified when he got the job. They were after someone with qualifications but he has the gift of the gab and somehow got the job. It still annoys me when I see people going for easy degre
e's and say that they are only there just to get a degree. A lot still get degree's in what I would consider useless subjects, like Politics, Psycology, Art, Sports Studies. Then they go on to do something completly unrealted and get paid more money than people that have been there 3 years just because they have a degree and are obviously better at the job, even though they may have no experience. Overall degrees are very useful it's just annoying that some are so easy and can provide so much benefit after graduation