MSE Poll: Is a degree earnings-enhancing and life-enhancing?

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! :)


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Replies

  • SenseicadsSenseicads Forumite
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    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_yuiopqwert_yuiop Forumite
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    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.
    “What means that trump?” Timon of Athens by William Shakespeare
  • 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.

    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.
  • Gavin83Gavin83 Forumite
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    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.
  • michelle09michelle09 Forumite
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    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_yuiopqwert_yuiop Forumite
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    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.
    “What means that trump?” Timon of Athens by William Shakespeare
  • 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_2aj23_2 Forumite
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    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.
  • 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_2aj23_2 Forumite
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    ykhan16 wrote: »
    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.

    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.
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