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

Poll started 18 September 2018
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-enhancing and life-enhancing?
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! :)



  • Super_Consumer
    Super_Consumer Forumite Posts: 46
    Part of the Furniture Combo Breaker Savvy Shopper!
    Why no option for this? Our Daughter trained as a Chemical Engineer and her degree has made a huge difference she's quids in, my son on the other hand works in IT and those who went into the industry from school are much better off.
  • NaughtiusMaximus
    NaughtiusMaximus Forumite Posts: 2,832
    Sixth Anniversary 1,000 Posts Name Dropper
    edited 19 September 2018 at 9:56AM
    Why no option for this? Our Daughter trained as a Chemical Engineer and her degree has made a huge difference she's quids in, my son on the other hand works in IT and those who went into the industry from school are much better off.


    Unless you want to pursue a career where a degree is either an essential requirement or a massive advantage (as Engineering would be), or have family wealthy enough to eliminate the requirement to take out student loans, I honestly don't think going to University makes financial sense anymore.

    In my case I think it was worthwhile for me, but I went in the mid 90s when there were no tuition fees and still a partial maintenance grant topped up with student loans. In total I think I took out around 3k of students loans but the minimum income threshold for repayment of these was far more generous than the later student loan system.
  • happyinflorida
    happyinflorida Forumite Posts: 807
    Part of the Furniture 500 Posts Combo Breaker
    I studied sociology - left early as I couldn't stand it or the people and found the fact I'd been on it such a hindrance when applying or going for interviews that I left it off my CV. People kept telling me I was "too clever" to work for them?!! Absolute rubbish, I just wanted a job that seemed up my street and paid money for me to live on.
  • PasturesNew
    PasturesNew Forumite Posts: 70,698
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    It also depends where you plan to base your life when you've got the degree... there's no point having a degree in marine biology with a focus on hot water species if you intend to return home, to a farm half way up a mountain in the middle of the country .... and marry your childhood sweetheart.
  • Gavin83
    Gavin83 Forumite Posts: 8,639
    Part of the Furniture 1,000 Posts Name Dropper
    As others have said it depends on what career you want. If you want to be a doctor then a degree is important, if you want to work on the shop floor in Tesco not so much. I work in IT and even in this industry I'd argue that it's probably better to not obtain a degree these days. It's become too expensive to be an option for all but a handful of career paths.
  • donny_jim
    donny_jim Forumite Posts: 72
    Part of the Furniture 10 Posts Combo Breaker
    There should be more options as it can depend on what course you take. No I didn't go to uni, but there were more jobs and more opportunities in the 60/70s than there are now, so good education is much more important today. But an apprenticeship could be just as good as uni. I think more companies should hire from schools and pay the uni costs. Even the best degree is no good if there is no job at the end of it.
  • kags
    kags Forumite Posts: 16
    Part of the Furniture 10 Posts Combo Breaker
    As others have said, it depends on the degree subject, and whether you’re going to work in that field. These days, with such a large proportion of young people going to university, I don’t think there is the same general “graduate premium”. When I went in the late 70s, and only about 10% went to university (and another % to polytechnics), employers would expect graduates to be articulate, have certain standards of literacy and numeracy, be able to work independently, to research, evaluate, summarise and apply knowledge. While this must still apply to the best degrees, others (e.g. hairdressing - which I’ve seen in the Clearing listings) probably less so. My advice to young people would probably be vocational on the job training, unless you want to go into an absolutely degree entry subject. It’s also easier and less unusual now to do a degree later in life - maybe once you really know what you’re interested in.
  • supersaver1000
    supersaver1000 Forumite Posts: 2,465
    Part of the Furniture 1,000 Posts Name Dropper Debt-free and Proud!
    edited 26 September 2018 at 8:43PM
    I didn't take A levels or do a degree back in the 80s when I left school - it wasn't something that was an option at the time - no-one in my family ever mentioned uni and I think few at my school went. It just wasn't on my radar - I don't think I even knew what Uni was.

    Much later in life I looked at online degree courses but didn't really want to do another 3 years of study, which could be 6 - 9 years with the OU part-time and the cost was huge - I just couldn't see there would be payback. Eventually I came across a top-up degree which cost less than £3,000 at the time.

    I would say that as well as the subject knowledge, doing a degree gave me skills to learn, which has broadened my life and opportunities. Its the best £3k I ever spent So, my vote would be for - Yes, it does add interest and value, but ydon't rush into a degree, work first if you aren't sure. These days there is no rush, you can have two or three careers and you can study anywhere, anytime.
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  • SofaChillReview
    SofaChillReview Forumite Posts: 23 Forumite
    I mean it really depends what your degree is in really. For example of a lot of jobs now need degrees that didn’t always need them (law springs to mind), problem is schools are trying to push people into school more now and the last ten years and students just follow because of advice and friends.
    Media Studies, Criminology, Psychology are all degrees people have taken and got nowhere with for example, if you were doing egineering, medicine etc then it’s different really
  • peter_the_piper
    peter_the_piper Forumite Posts: 30,266
    Part of the Furniture 10,000 Posts Name Dropper
    I'm afraid that university was not available for most of us when we left school, 1961, the most we could aspire to was a technical college or go to work.
    I'd rather be an Optimist and be proved wrong than a Pessimist and be proved right.
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