It has often been claimed that the key to attaining a successful job is to get a degree. Students often begin university overlooking the fact that many of them are getting into around £30,000 of debt because they believe that once they are done posting photos on social media of them throwing their cap on graduation day, a graduate employer will be waiting in the wings to hire them with a starting salary of at least £22,000. Whilst this is true for many graduates, the same cannot be said for all and in fact there are many signs indicating that the attainment of a university degree might not be an indicator of future success. It further appears as though young people are becoming aware of the fact that a degree quite often leads to a mountain of debt and a job struggle. The Daily Mail reported today that some of the top UK universities were desperately struggling to fill spaces on many of their courses. Could this be the end of everybody glorifying degree’s over apprenticeships, jobs straight from college etc?
The role of further education has changed dramatically throughout the past 100 years. In mid to late twentieth century, further education was considered to be something solely for those from the middle class and degrees generally offered qualifications that were compulsory for careers in fields such as medicine and law. Then in the nineties and noughties, the allusive university became more inclusive and eighteen-year olds were largely told that pursuing a degree was the only way to secure a successful job (often by parents who hadn’t had the opportunity to attend themselves). People who rejected the path to further education (and debt) were often looked down upon by their peers however, nowadays it has become more and more evident that possessing a degree is not always synonymous with success.
Universities are no longer as prestigious as they once claimed to be. It is no longer extremely difficult to attain a place on a degree course and while that doesn’t undermine the hard work that students undertake to get on their desired course, it shows how the mass influx of students attaining degrees in subjects that range from ‘Waste Management with Dance’ (University of Northampton) to ‘David Beckham Studies’ (Staffordshire University) is making it more difficult for students to stand out. Nearly everyone has a degree now.
Yet, the inability to distinguish between the hundreds of thousands of students who graduate every year with 2:1’s is not the main argument as to why university is becoming redundant. Whilst many people spend three years lavishing the student lifestyle, others opt for careers straight from sixth form or college where they can progress within their chosen field. Apprenticeships are increasing in popularity year on year and can often lead to participants achieving degree’s whilst receiving vital work experience and job roles.
In addition to this, it is arguable that skills and personality account for more than a degree might in certain careers. Whilst it is undeniable that if you were to require surgery, you would want a surgeon with a degree and training as opposed to a charismatic manner, the same requirements are not a staple for all jobs. Creative careers such as writing and make-up artistry require a talent that cannot be taught in text books. Personable jobs such as media sales and marketing require qualities that can’t be taught in a £9,000 a year lecture room. Many careers now are willing to overlook a higher education qualification if a person has experience, personality and the right skills for a job therefore undermining the need for a degree.
Whilst achieving a degree is still a great feat that every individual should celebrate, it is clear that Millennials no longer require a degree to achieve success. They’re a generation that are recognising that blindly following in their parent’s footsteps will not guarantee them their dream job and instead are recognising that a metaphorical degree in life experience may be worth more (and cost a lot less) than one from their local university.