student loans

Some degrees are useless for getting a job

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A former skills minister, Robert Halfon, has suggested that students taking degrees that will help them to work in areas of demand should pay less.

He believes that, although intellectual development is a good thing, “…all courses, given the high payment, the cost, the loan you take, should be about high-skilled employability. Every course.”

If you want to study subjects that do not address employability – such as mediaeval history – you shouldn’t expect to get any incentives or discounts unlike people aiming to work in areas where the country has a skills deficit such as healthcare, coding, construction, engineering and digital.

He also criticises the Russell group of universities which he says have impressive marketing rather than results, and are complacently resting on their reputations. Their response was to say its members’ “number one priority is to support their undergraduates to become highly skilled, self-motivated young adults, who are capable of thinking for themselves and adapting to new work environments.”

Which are the best degrees to get you a job within six months of graduating?

Medicine 99%

Building 87%

Chemical engineering 78%

Physics & astronomy 77%

Economics 76%

Which are worst degrees for employability?

Animal science 45%

Agriculture & forestry 55%

Creative writing 55%

Hospitality/tourism 56%

Sociology 56%

I’m surprised there aren’t other micky-mouse degrees on the list like media studies or history of art but I think the point is well made. Can we afford to provide degree courses because it’s a good thing to do rather than because your country needs you?

For years the military attracted graduates by paying their way through university and modern apprenticeships and Dyson’s new university are very focussed on work outcomes.

I’m not suggesting we go the old soviet route of directed employment although I remember an argument between two german psychologists I met in Finland. One was from the former east who wanted to be a doctor but was told to do a psychology degree instead, and one from the west who thought that was scandalous. Both were happy in their jobs.

Of course it will upset the snowflakes…..