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    • MSE Rosie
    • By MSE Rosie 10th Oct 17, 1:32 PM
    • 61Posts
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    MSE Rosie
    MSE Poll: Is a degree earnings-enhancing and life-enhancing?
    • #1
    • 10th Oct 17, 1:32 PM
    MSE Poll: Is a degree earnings-enhancing and life-enhancing? 10th Oct 17 at 1:32 PM
    Poll started 10 October 2017

    Is a degree earnings-enhancing and life-enhancing?

    The debate about the cost and value of university rumbles on, so we want to test your ‘big picture’ view. Imagine you were telling a bright 18-year old about whether they should go or not.

    In general is getting a degree earnings and life enhancing?


    Please vote for ONE option under the category that applies to you.


    Did you vote? Are you surprised at the results so far? Have your say below. To see the results from last time, click here.

    If you haven’t already, join the forum to reply.

    Thanks!


    This Forum tip was included in MoneySavingExpert.com's weekly email!
Page 1
    • Senseicads
    • By Senseicads 10th Oct 17, 3:51 PM
    • 59 Posts
    • 30 Thanks
    Senseicads
    • #2
    • 10th Oct 17, 3:51 PM
    • #2
    • 10th Oct 17, 3:51 PM
    I'm not quite sure what you were expecting from this, people who have been to Uni are smug and are obviously going to say they are pleased with their decision, people who haven't are probably wishing they did go and are going to say they obviously can't see any benefit from going. I think you'd struggle to get anyone to say they had made a bad decision either way.
    • qwert yuiop
    • By qwert yuiop 10th Oct 17, 4:00 PM
    • 2,024 Posts
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    qwert yuiop
    • #3
    • 10th Oct 17, 4:00 PM
    • #3
    • 10th Oct 17, 4:00 PM
    I came through in the late 80s - I'd recommend a degree course to anyone who's getting paid to go to university. Otherwise, these days I wouldn't entertain the debt involved in that five year stint. Even then, I'd say it would have taken me years and years to catch up financially with a (nonexistent) twin who'd left school at 16 and got a trade.
    It was a lot of fun, though.
    • NaughtiusMaximus
    • By NaughtiusMaximus 10th Oct 17, 4:26 PM
    • 305 Posts
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    NaughtiusMaximus
    • #4
    • 10th Oct 17, 4:26 PM
    • #4
    • 10th Oct 17, 4:26 PM
    I came through in the late 80s - I'd recommend a degree course to anyone who's getting paid to go to university. Otherwise, these days I wouldn't entertain the debt involved in that five year stint. Even then, I'd say it would have taken me years and years to catch up financially with a (nonexistent) twin who'd left school at 16 and got a trade.
    It was a lot of fun, though.
    Originally posted by qwert yuiop
    My thoughts exactly. I went in the mid 90s when the grants were gradually being phased out. I enjoyed it but don't think it helped my earnings potential, I could easily have followed the same career path to end up where I am now if I had left education at 18.

    tbh unless you either have a career in mind where a degree is an essential pre-requisite, are academically brilliant (I'm talking PhD material) or have rich relatives to eliminate the need to take on student loans, I wouldn't recommend Uni now.
    • Gavin83
    • By Gavin83 10th Oct 17, 4:27 PM
    • 4,609 Posts
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    Gavin83
    • #5
    • 10th Oct 17, 4:27 PM
    • #5
    • 10th Oct 17, 4:27 PM
    Impossible question to answer. It depends entirely on what job they hope to do, how much natural ability they have and to a lesser degree what university they'll be attending. There are only a handful of jobs left that require a degree so for these it's a necessity. For all other jobs you can do without, although having a degree will make it easier to get your foot in the door for some. Unless you want a job in medicine, law, science or engineering I'd seriously consider whether it's worth it. In most cases probably not.
    • michelle09
    • By michelle09 10th Oct 17, 5:25 PM
    • 303 Posts
    • 950 Thanks
    michelle09
    • #6
    • 10th Oct 17, 5:25 PM
    • #6
    • 10th Oct 17, 5:25 PM
    I don't think this statement can possibly be answered this way. It only works if all degrees / universities / workplaces are equal which they're not.

    For myself? I was part of the £3000/year tuition fee cohort and decided not to go and got a job. That job offered me a promotion that would include a part time degree (that they would cover the fees for).

    As it was the specific degree that was required for the job, had no tuition fee cost (to me) and I walked into a job 10k higher 12 months after finishing, it was entirely worth it.

    I did pay for a Masters degree (£5000 fee) but now I am in a position that required me to have that Masters. It was only a £1200 payrise but after five years it'll have paid for itself. The next Masters hasn't progressed my career but I didn't pay for it.

    I wouldn't touch the current level of tuition fees with a bargepole though.
    • qwert yuiop
    • By qwert yuiop 10th Oct 17, 5:41 PM
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    qwert yuiop
    • #7
    • 10th Oct 17, 5:41 PM
    • #7
    • 10th Oct 17, 5:41 PM
    The only way you're going to get to be a dentist, for instance, which pays well, is by going to university.
    A poor result in an arts degree could be a cause of regret later, although if you never earn much, you don't have to pay it back. How to pull a fast one on the taxpayer, sort of.
    • TrickyDicky
    • By TrickyDicky 11th Oct 17, 7:18 AM
    • 654 Posts
    • 228 Thanks
    TrickyDicky
    • #8
    • 11th Oct 17, 7:18 AM
    • #8
    • 11th Oct 17, 7:18 AM
    It really depends on the Job/Degree people hold.
    I am an engineering grad and work in engineering doing stuff I doubt anyone without a degree could do, plus a degree in relevant subject is always the first requirement on any job ads.

    But I think for the majority of people, all most people learn is how to construct a report and how to get a point across in the form of essays/dissertations and probably some analytical thinking. I think most people could learn that without university.
    • aj23
    • By aj23 11th Oct 17, 9:51 AM
    • 6 Posts
    • 2 Thanks
    aj23
    • #9
    • 11th Oct 17, 9:51 AM
    Not really
    • #9
    • 11th Oct 17, 9:51 AM
    Our Sixth Form head pressured us all to apply, even if we didn't want to go. Typical of an institutionalized teacher, she said we wouldn't do well without a degree. I applied for the same course as a friend, not really knowing what to apply for, and to be honest I did really enjoy it, so much so I did an MA after. Luckily I didn't need loans, otherwise I wouldn't have gone because I wouldn't have wanted the debt and I understand about finances.

    But was it worth it in terms of a career? No. I haven't got a job in my degree subject, I work for the family business because I couldn't find one as apparently it was too specialist (it was a Film and Literature degree, focusing on Film theory, not production). My friends who didn't go have had a mortgage for a few years, while us that did, haven't moved out.

    Unless you want to be a teacher, lawyer, doctor etc., I wouldn't recommend going. Use these three years to get a job and work your way up, as you'll be at least three years ahead of those who go to uni in terms of earnings.

    Besides, average earnings for uni goes is only 100k more than someone who doesn't go. Over a 50 year working career (for my generation now), that's only 2k more a year. Was that worth the 40-60k of debt? I don't regret it, but I wouldn't make the same choice if I was 18 again with my 25 year old experience.
    • ykhan16
    • By ykhan16 11th Oct 17, 10:34 AM
    • 10 Posts
    • 4 Thanks
    ykhan16
    Of course there are exceptions but speaking very generally there will be a ceiling on career prospects above which you are unlikely to progress if you don't have a degree.


    Despite the fee's I think you should still aim to go to university. Its a great experience and if it doesn't end up boosting your earnings- the repayments will be minimal.


    Its just worth pointing out that it is important these days for young people to have an idea about what kind of work they want to do later on. Every other person has a degree these days so they need to aim for a job relating to that degree- because if they don't someone else will.
    • aj23
    • By aj23 11th Oct 17, 11:03 AM
    • 6 Posts
    • 2 Thanks
    aj23
    Of course there are exceptions but speaking very generally there will be a ceiling on career prospects above which you are unlikely to progress if you don't have a degree.


    Despite the fee's I think you should still aim to go to university. Its a great experience and if it doesn't end up boosting your earnings- the repayments will be minimal.


    Its just worth pointing out that it is important these days for young people to have an idea about what kind of work they want to do later on. Every other person has a degree these days so they need to aim for a job relating to that degree- because if they don't someone else will.
    Originally posted by ykhan16
    A lot of the most successful people in business never went to university, so saying there is a ceiling for those who don't go is wrong. I went to uni and hit the ceiling upon graduation because I couldn't find a job for my subject study.

    Asking taxpayers to fund a £50k 'experience' isn't the right thing to be propagating either, or to say that you won't burden much of the cost because of low repayments.

    It's not even so much about having a a BA/BSC now, because people who have an MA/MSC will be preferred, and those with a PHD preferred above them. You end up in an education cycle, stuck with getting student and personal loans and never learn but it's like to have a job and actually earn money instead of expecting everything as a handout. And I'm speaking as someone who has two degrees.
    • qwert yuiop
    • By qwert yuiop 11th Oct 17, 11:36 AM
    • 2,024 Posts
    • 1,178 Thanks
    qwert yuiop
    Our Sixth Form head pressured us all to apply, even if we didn't want to go. Typical of an institutionalized teacher, she said we wouldn't do well without a degree. I applied for the same course as a friend, not really knowing what to apply for, and to be honest I did really enjoy it, so much so I did an MA after. Luckily I didn't need loans, otherwise I wouldn't have gone because I wouldn't have wanted the debt and I understand about finances.

    But was it worth it in terms of a career? No. I haven't got a job in my degree subject, I work for the family business because I couldn't find one as apparently it was too specialist (it was a Film and Literature degree, focusing on Film theory, not production). My friends who didn't go have had a mortgage for a few years, while us that did, haven't moved out.

    Unless you want to be a teacher, lawyer, doctor etc., I wouldn't recommend going. Use these three years to get a job and work your way up, as you'll be at least three years ahead of those who go to uni in terms of earnings.

    Besides, average earnings for uni goes is only 100k more than someone who doesn't go. Over a 50 year working career (for my generation now), that's only 2k more a year. Was that worth the 40-60k of debt? I don't regret it, but I wouldn't make the same choice if I was 18 again with my 25 year old experience.
    Originally posted by aj23
    Those average earnings are interesting. I wonder what the advantage is when you exclude those who really profit from their degrees such as dentists and barristers? Not very much, nothing - or worse off?
    • Gavin83
    • By Gavin83 11th Oct 17, 12:07 PM
    • 4,609 Posts
    • 7,273 Thanks
    Gavin83
    Of course there are exceptions but speaking very generally there will be a ceiling on career prospects above which you are unlikely to progress if you don't have a degree.
    Originally posted by ykhan16
    I can't say I agree with this. Maybe it's industry dependent (although I work in an industry where 90% of people have degrees) but you can get to director level without a degree no problem, or alternatively go into consulting and earn a 6 figure sum. Some of the top companies won't take you on without a degree but there are plenty who will.
    • aj23
    • By aj23 11th Oct 17, 12:10 PM
    • 6 Posts
    • 2 Thanks
    aj23
    Those average earnings are interesting. I wonder what the advantage is when you exclude those who really profit from their degrees such as dentists and barristers? Not very much, nothing - or worse off?
    Originally posted by qwert yuiop
    Dentists, barristers and lawyers, even GPs, don't fall into the average earners, as they earn a lot very early on. You raise a good point, I don't think there is advantage for average people/earners if you take their loans into account. It just helps government figures saying people are in education for another 3 years instead of being unemployed.
    • qwert yuiop
    • By qwert yuiop 11th Oct 17, 12:35 PM
    • 2,024 Posts
    • 1,178 Thanks
    qwert yuiop
    Dentists, barristers and lawyers, even GPs, don't fall into the average earners, as they earn a lot very early on. You raise a good point, I don't think there is advantage for average people/earners if you take their loans into account. It just helps government figures saying people are in education for another 3 years instead of being unemployed.
    Originally posted by aj23
    Why would anyone be unemployed when there are so many jobs these days? Hundreds of thousands of people are working away who can't even speak English.
    • BobbinAlong
    • By BobbinAlong 11th Oct 17, 8:02 PM
    • 152 Posts
    • 145 Thanks
    BobbinAlong
    As a graduate who is still working in my degree area (Computer Science) 40 years after graduating, I would definitely say do a degree but choose the subject carefully with a career afterwards in mind. My own daughter chose film and, although she is currently working in that industry, she wishes she'd done something else such as zoology which would be more useful to her in her film career now!


    Also I've worked on the candidate sift and interview side of life and the first requirement was always a degree or other higher level qualification.
    Any candidate without was rejected straight away. Even someone I knew would be very suitable, but didn't have a higher qualification, was rejected immediately by the panel because it was specified as a requirement for the post. These days with an even higher percentage of the population graduating and job hunting, those without degrees are eliminated extremely quickly and a good pool of candidates still remains.
    So a degree IS an advantage.
    • Laundrylily
    • By Laundrylily 12th Oct 17, 9:51 AM
    • 2 Posts
    • 1 Thanks
    Laundrylily
    Choose wisely.....think long term
    I agree whole heartedly with BobbinAlong...choose your degree subject wisely.
    My first degree was in a science......I was only really equipped to get poorly paid lab jobs or start further training and many fellow students ended up doing MSc's as they really didn't see a good future without them. I used my degree to do another degree...a vocation....dentistry. I was very very lucky, dentistry is well paid and I really appreciate how my second vocational degree impacted on my life. I got into debt to pay for the second degree but it was an investment I don't regret. Note I say 'investment', and just like any financial situation you should tread carefully and consider whether your 'investment' (student debt) will be worth it.

    My advice to potential undergraduates is to think really really carefully about where you see yourself/what you want in life, ...it's not easy for all. DO NOT RUSH into doing any old degree 'just to get to uni like your mates'...you may regret it. If you are unsure about what you want to do, (many at 18 are undecided ) DELAY UNI.
    In an ideal world many could have non-vocational degree subjects and then go onto a graduate job unrelated to their subject. The degree being irrelevant and used as an indication of your potential , ability and intelligence.However unless you're from a loaded background ( I'm not) and the bank of M&D can pay your fees, rent etc you should choose a non - vocational subject very carefully, or do so knowing you'll need further training ( i.e. PGCE) to get a good job.

    Another important consideration that many A level students are unaware of is how important the right university is to some employers. Snobbery exists in education and like it or not a 2:1 in a subject from a 'new uni' ( Ex-polytechnic) could be turned down for the same subject / grade from a 'Russell group Uni ' ( older, well established and ranked by their academic reasearch output). Today's teenagers weren't every born when the old poly's became Uni's, so many are unaware.
    I have colleagues whose children have applied to Uni being sadly unaware that the 'Russell group' exists, they ask for higher grades...because they're more popular with those ' in the know', shame nobody bothered to tell my colleagues children. Google 'Russell group' if further info is required.
    Last edited by Laundrylily; 12-10-2017 at 9:54 AM. Reason: Post too big/ boring!
    • aj23
    • By aj23 12th Oct 17, 10:52 AM
    • 6 Posts
    • 2 Thanks
    aj23
    Why would anyone be unemployed when there are so many jobs these days? Hundreds of thousands of people are working away who can't even speak English.
    Originally posted by qwert yuiop
    Because not everyone who leaves school at 18 goes straight to uni, or into a job. Some take some time out, some travel etc.
    • aj23
    • By aj23 12th Oct 17, 10:55 AM
    • 6 Posts
    • 2 Thanks
    aj23
    I can't say I agree with this. Maybe it's industry dependent (although I work in an industry where 90% of people have degrees) but you can get to director level without a degree no problem, or alternatively go into consulting and earn a 6 figure sum. Some of the top companies won't take you on without a degree but there are plenty who will.
    Originally posted by Gavin83
    If you have experience, which 99% of graduates don't. And that's providing all applicants have the same degree, because someone with an MA will get it over ten with BAs. Too much emphasis is put on a bit a paper with a mark. You learn more in your first 1 month of paid work than you do in 3 years of uni, which could be easily condensed to 12-18 months. Mine definitely could have.
    • moneyistooshorttomention
    • By moneyistooshorttomention 13th Oct 17, 9:01 AM
    • 13,645 Posts
    • 37,097 Thanks
    moneyistooshorttomention

    Another important consideration that many A level students are unaware of is how important the right university is to some employers. Snobbery exists in education and like it or not a 2:1 in a subject from a 'new uni' ( Ex-polytechnic) could be turned down for the same subject / grade from a 'Russell group Uni ' ( older, well established and ranked by their academic reasearch output). Today's teenagers weren't every born when the old poly's became Uni's, so many are unaware.
    I have colleagues whose children have applied to Uni being sadly unaware that the 'Russell group' exists, they ask for higher grades...because they're more popular with those ' in the know', shame nobody bothered to tell my colleagues children. Google 'Russell group' if further info is required.
    Originally posted by Laundrylily
    That pretty much encapsulates what I was looking for in the voting options - but it wasnt there.

    I'm in the early 60s agegroup and wanted to find a way to differentiate between:
    1. - "real" universities and coming out with a "real" degree

    2. - other "universities" and other "degrees".

    In my era - it was basically "real" universities and "real" degrees and I would think it's been well worth it for those of my generation that went (which I didnt myself - long story).

    For current generation then I'm guessing it's going to vary a lot according to which of those two categories they come into. I'm not sure whether they'd think it worth it for category 1. I very much doubt they'd think it worth it for category 2.

    I can't think of any younger people currently that are in category 1. I do know a couple currently going through category 2 and am unsure about prospects for one of them compared to not going. The 2nd one is most definitely not bright enough by far for "university proper" and might just as well not bother to rack up the huge loan they are currently racking up and just go straight into the family firm.
    Last edited by moneyistooshorttomention; 13-10-2017 at 9:04 AM.
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