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Dougal

Are University degrees now worthless?

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27K of debt for a qualification that gives you no advantage in the job market because everybody has got one. Is there an alternative to education, education, education?

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Unless you are specifically going into a career that requires one, then yes. Undergraduate degrees aren't worth much now that every one and their dog has one. You don't even need good grades to get into uni now.

You either need at least a Masters or good postgraduate qualifications and good experience in the field to stand out now.

Schools drum it in to kids that they have to go to uni to have any sort of success which is nonsense and overcrowds the market.

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I work for Royal Mail, and the business is seemingly full of wet behind the ear graduate "Managers". I also see quite a lot of "Graduates wanted" job opportunities advertised in the numerous forms of Royal Mail propaganda circulated to it's employees.

The popular consensus amongst the frontline staff is that these graduates, who have no real world experience of the delivery/logistics business, don't really know what they are doing, and at worst are actually detrimental to the business.

Here is an idea, why not look to hire from the many keen employees from the ranks, those that have plenty of real world experience, those that know what works in theory but doesn't in practice, those that have a genuine stake in the success of the company, those that require less training and babysitting to progress into higher roles?

There are many willing and able staff already there, whom are more than capable of filling the required vacancies, yet they discount and overlook this precious resource. It's right under their nose, and they haven't figured it out yet.

So, whilst I do tend to agree that many Uni degrees are somewhat dubious in merit, there are still big companies willing to make a beeline for those that posses them.

Progressing through the ranks may be making something of a comeback in the face of degree saturation, but it's by no means universal to business or employers.

Edited by March Blizzard
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Unless you are specifically going into a career that requires one, then yes. Undergraduate degrees aren't worth much now that every one and their dog has one. You don't even need good grades to get into uni now.

You either need at least a Masters or good postgraduate qualifications and good experience in the field to stand out now.

Schools drum it in to kids that they have to go to uni to have any sort of success which is nonsense and overcrowds the market.

 

Agreed. The obsession of getting as many people into university as possible has damaged higher education in my opinion.

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Agreed. The obsession of getting as many people into university as possible has damaged higher education in my opinion.

Not only that, it has lead to a skills shortage across many "manual" industries such as bricklaying, plumbing, electrics etc as many who otherwise would have taken these roles went to uni instead. Ironically, due in part to these shortages, many with these manual skills actually earn more than graduates, sometimes significantly so.

When it comes to equipping people with the right skills, and finding the right balance of skills, the UK looks to be incredibly inept.

Edited by March Blizzard
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degrees in some subjects are useless like geography history etc unless you are going into teaching which has always been the case....i love both subjects but never saw the merit in doing a degree in them as they wouldnt help me career wise.

unfotunaetly some graduates think that becuase they have a degree they have the god gven right to a senior management position from the get go.

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Agreed. The obsession of getting as many people into university as possible has damaged higher education in my opinion.

A double-barreled failure! It was meant to give everybody equal opportunity and also to keep youngsters off the dole; succeeded in neither objective as kids now have unrealistic expectations and just delay joining the dole queue till later. Time to restore the proper tech side of further education and meet employer needs.

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I work for Royal Mail, and the business is seemingly full of wet behind the ear graduate "Managers". I also see quite a lot of "Graduates wanted" job opportunities advertised in the numerous forms of Royal Mail propaganda circulated to it's employees.

The popular consensus amongst the frontline staff is that these graduates, who have no real world experience of the delivery/logistics business, don't really know what they are doing, and at worst are actually detrimental to the business.

Here is an idea, why not look to hire from the many keen employees from the ranks, those that have plenty of real world experience, those that know what works in theory but doesn't in practice, those that have a genuine stake in the success of the company, those that require less training and babysitting to progress into higher roles?

There are many willing and able staff already there, whom are more than capable of filling the required vacancies, yet they discount and overlook this precious resource. It's right under their nose, and they haven't figured it out yet.

So, whilst I do tend to agree that many Uni degrees are somewhat dubious in merit, there are still big companies willing to make a beeline for those that posses them.

Progressing through the ranks may be making something of a comeback in the face of degree saturation, but it's by no means universal to business or employers.

 

You say that, but the biggest hurdle for coming out of uni to getting a job was lack of experience, so I think a lot of employers still prefer experience over a piece of paper. But a piece of paper plus experience seems to be the sweet spot.

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degrees in some subjects are useless like geography history etc unless you are going into teaching which has always been the case....i love both subjects but never saw the merit in doing a degree in them as they wouldnt help me career wise.

unfotunaetly some graduates think that becuase they have a degree they have the god gven right to a senior management position from the get go.

 

I think you're on to something there, but I think it comes from the idea that's been drummed into them that you get a good job if you do a degree. So you naively graduate thinking you'll walk into a good job at a higher up position, which just isn't the case at all. I was guilty of that. BUT what I have found is, you tend to move up the ladder quicker if you start near the bottom and you have a degree.

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It troubles me that the system conditions young people to taking on large amounts of debt before they've earned a penny in their lives.

It cannot be right to lend an 18 year old £27000 before they've learned the value of money through earning some of it themselves.

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It troubles me that the system conditions young people to taking on large amounts of debt before they've earned a penny in their lives.

It cannot be right to lend an 18 year old £27000 before they've learned the value of money through earning some of it themselves.

 

Well it's either that or make university education free. An 18 year old is not going to be able to get that amount of money together themselves.

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To some extent it all depends on what you want a degree for; mine was simply to satisfy a lifelong fascination with natural sciences - the idea of a work-related drudge never really appealed to me. That said, I used the Open University route, in the days when one could just about afford it and, until Thatcher's ideological hatred made it too expensive, for ordinary folks, to follow, it was an opportunity for anyone who wanted an education to obtain one...

 

Sadly, successive governments' policies (including those of Tony Bleurhhg!) have ensured that, despite being hypothetically 'open to all', higher education is increasingly becoming a preserve of the rich...What's more, under the current weird idea of 'buy now, pay later', future generations are going to be burdened with cost of what today's students will never be able to repay...

 

So much for a 'long-term economic plan'! :fool:

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27K of debt for a qualification that gives you no advantage in the job market because everybody has got one. Is there an alternative to education, education, education?

 

Blair's infamous line should really have been 'privatisation of Eduction...privatisation of Education....'

 

For that was what it was.

 

Folks will note that the move to expand university entry by centre-right New Labour co-coincided with the introduction of tuition fees; a natural follow on from Thatcher-Major's winding down of student grants.

 

Both of these moves were about privatisation of higher education, shifting the burden of education from the state/society to the individual.

 

Sure fees are not 'up front', but essentially they are; if you ever earn enough to be benefiting from the degree, you will be paying the fees back.

 

Privatisation of education of course has the effect of changing its nature. When state funded, it is about merit. When privatised, it is about profit. As a result, standards are reduced to create a bigger customer base.

 

As an academic in a postgrad institute, we are facing this problem. Until recently, all our MSc places were funded by industry (we don't do undergrad degrees; these are of course funded by the Scottish Government). However, as universities have been increasingly pushed to be more 'businesses' rather than academic institutions, so the head honchos want to take on more 'self funding' students, often from wealthy families overseas.

 

Very, very lucrative; people are willing to pay 10's of 1000's for a post grad degree from a top Scottish university. However, there's a catch. They are paying for their degree so expect to get it, even if it turns out they are not clever enough. After all, they have paid for it! If you hand over 20k for a car, you will not stand for the car dealership telling you 'sorry, your driving is not good enough - you can't have it'.

 

So, we have an ongoing battle of academics vs university senate over this.

 

Thankfully, the problem is not huge in Scotland because most courses remain fully funded, with self funding levels quite low. That is keeping standards high and the value of degrees from Scottish Universities high.

 

Overall, when you privatise eduction you go from having a decent number of top quality institutions (with limits on entry based on merit) to having a just a few of these and the rest mediocre, competing essentially on price (essentially no limits on entry in terms of merit). If they fail to many people, people will shop elsewhere, hence dropping of standards. The few top ones can charge pretty much what they like, meaning only the wealthy can afford to get a really good degree. This is essentially what you have in the USA. You have Yale, Harvard, MIT etc; then hundreds of 'universities' you will never have heard of.

 

The dropping of standards combined with the ability to 'purchase' a degree results in wholesale devaluation of them; something we are now seeing in parts of the UK.

 

Corbyn is right to want to end tuition fees; the future of higher education standards in England rests on it.

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To some extent it all depends on what you want a degree for; mine was simply to satisfy a lifelong fascination with natural sciences - the idea of a work-related drudge never really appealed to me. That said, I used the Open University route, in the days when one could just about afford it and, until Thatcher's ideological hatred made it too expensive, for ordinary folks, to follow, it was an opportunity for anyone who wanted an education to obtain one...

 

 

Very much the same as me Pete. I should have added that for younger folk the OU degree also had the advantage of being accompanied by work experience.

Edited by knocker

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I was the last year to go to uni when the fees were set at £3000 a year. I got maintenance grant and a university grant as my parents earnt below a certain income. I would never have been able to afford it otherwise. If I was 17 and thinking about uni now, there's no way I'd go when it costs that much. Student debt isn't debt as we know it, so it's not the same as being £27000 in debt on a credit card or anything and it doesn't affect your credit rating, but still...

 

It certainly does sting a bit when you leave with debt, have to start in a low paid job and people who haven;t been to uni are earning much more than you. That's not to say you deserve it being a graduate(or that they don't deserve it either), but it's like paying £10k for a holiday, only to find out someone else has paid half that, and got a better room than you and has been upgraded on their flights and you never needed to pay as much as you did. I think that's what fuels graduates to feel reluctant about taking lower end jobs, you feel like you've been conned.

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As a general rule academics make poor managers particularly when dealing with finances and staff. The skills required to be a top authority in your research field do not go hand in hand with running a 'business'.

As a result many universities are incredibly inefficient and wasteful of huge sums of money. Staff are often not motivated or properly invested in.

The tuition fees could be significantly less if the universities weren't having to cover the costs of their own shortcomings.

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I believe the problem is that too many people opt for the more easier and more popular subjects, say media studies, we have a glut of graduates so qualified leading to the supply and demand situation where many are not going to in a position to use their qualifications which means in effect a devaluation of these particular subjects.

 

On the other hand I believe that the maths and science subjects still hold their value because fewer graduates are so qualified, so I would advise young people to think long, hard and deeply about what they propose doing with their lives as well as making the appropriate research in respect of job vacancies available in respect of the various degrees.

 

It's a pity that more courses in this country are run for the benefit of the more practical to enable our country to develop higher standards of engineering for example - not everybody is cut out for the academic classics.

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I know I'm biased, but I still think that the sciences (and other subjects where skills are required) should be subsidised.

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I know I'm biased, but I still think that the sciences (and other subjects where skills are required) should be subsidised.

I agree; and we also need a proper supply of good engineers...Sadly, far too many of our 'great leaders' have nowt more than history degrees and a facility with Ancient Greek and Latin. What, for heaven's sake, is the use of that?

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I know I'm biased, but I still think that the sciences (and other subjects where skills are required) should be subsidised.

 

It's not subsidised. I got my degree for 'free' and have paid it back many, many times over. 

 

The right justify tuition fees by saying 'If you get a degree you earn more so should have to pay fees'.

 

Obviously, if you earn more you pay more tax so pay for your degree that way. Chances are you will also pay for other people's degrees too; that's why we (should) educate people to a high level.

 

What we are of course seeing now is the failure of privatisation; people are getting degrees and not earning enough because of privatisation. The argument of the right is falling apart.

 

There should of course be limits on state funding. In Scotland it is not a free for all; the government decides the number of funded places it will support each year and you need to get good grades to get a funded place. They also prioritise subjects for funding based on industrial demand and long term economic plans. Free markets can't do this is a they are inherently short term.

Edited by scottish skier
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It's not subsidised. I got my degree for 'free' and have paid it back many, many times over. 

 

The right justify tuition fees by saying 'If you get a degree you earn more so should have to pay fees'.

 

Obviously, if you earn more you pay more tax so pay for your degree that way. Chances are you will also pay for other people's degrees too; that's why we (should) educate people to a high level.

 

What we are of course seeing now is the failure of privatisation; people are getting degrees and not earning enough because of privatisation. The argument of the right is falling apart.

 

There should of course be limits on state funding. In Scotland it is not a free for all; the government decides the number of funded places it will support each year and you need to get good grades to get a funded place. They also prioritise subjects for funding based on industrial demand and long term economic plans. Free markets can't do this is a they are inherently short term.

 

You've completely misinterpreted my post. I know they're not subsidised, I'm saying they should be.

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I know I'm biased, but I still think that the sciences (and other subjects where skills are required) should be subsidised.

Absolutely. If we, as a nation, are short of mechanical engineers, for example, then there should be more assistance from the state for those looking to undertake the position.

As it stands, you get the impression that successive government rationale has been along the lines of "we'll just import them from abroad".

It's probably a good job other countries haven't been so short-sighted or lazy.

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You've completely misinterpreted my post. I know they're not subsidised, I'm saying they should be.

 

Sorry, I think we've misinterpreted each other.

 

I support state funding of uni degrees (with conditions, namely in important areas) which I gathered you did too.

 

I just think the word 'subsidised' is wrong. It's used too much by the right to suggest you are putting money into something which is not profitable / breaking even or giving someone a freebie / handout. You know 'Why should my taxes subsidise someone else's uni degree!'.

 

I believe we both agree that higher eduction is an investment by the state (if done correctly); one which does benefit it. In that sense its not a 'subsidy'.

Edited by scottish skier

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Sorry, I think we've misinterpreted each other.

 

I support state funding of uni degrees (with conditions, namely in important areas) which I gathered you did too.

 

I just think the word 'subsidised' is wrong. It's used too much by the right to suggest you are putting money into something which is not profitable / breaking even or giving someone a freebie / handout. You know 'Why should my taxes subsidise someone else's uni degree!'.

 

I believe we both agree that higher eduction is an investment by the state (if done correctly); one which does benefit it. In that sense its not a 'subsidy'.

 

Perhaps subsidised was the wrong word. Either way, I'm of the belief that education should not have a price tag.

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Perhaps subsidised was the wrong word. Either way, I'm of the belief that education should not have a price tag.

I agree money shouldn't be a factor in wanting to better oneself, but at the same time it's something that shouldn't be frowned upon either.

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