At long last, something to wake up the universities

Jun 11, 2013

When financially strong universities like Salford, Cambridge and Exeter start cutting huge numbers of courses because of a drop in student applications it can only mean one thing: more will follow suit.

The huge hike in tuition fees are beginning to take their toll. Students are shunning degrees in subjects like history, English, politics and languages in favour of vocational courses that offer better job prospects and universities fear that it could lead to job losses of up to 95%. In some universities enrolment is down by as much as 43%.

The Sunday Times report shows that many universities around the UK are affected, including three in the Russell Group.

It spells bad news for the UK, especially with the threat against specialist courses which the vice-chancellor of Reading University, Sir David Bell, says is what helps to give UK universities “their unique character and help to support crucial research”.

Yet there is something universities can do to stem the tide. Something they should have been doing all along.

Help students get jobs!

Here are the facts

From our research over the last five years working with graduates we have learnt that:

  • 85% of students never enter their careers office: some universities have excellent careers support services but sadly these are rare. The vast majority of graduates say their university offered very little support to help them find a job.
  • 160 accepted applications for every job advertised: graduate recruitment is competitive with the average total of applications for each job thought to be closer to over 600. Since the majority of graduates have never been taught how to get a job they fair badly when it comes to finding one. Figures show that up to 350 applications are rejected simply because of spelling or grammatical errors.
  • 51% never get a graduate level job: sadly over half of those who go to university to get a degree never get a job that matches their level of qualification. Many graduates end up on low paid jobs that do not reflect the fact that they have spent three or more years studying at university.

Solution: Teach Graduates how to get a job!

Nobody is being taught the art and science of how to get a job and it baffles us that universities by and large don’t think it is their problem

With arts and specialist courses being cut, whole school departments being threatened with closure, and up to 95% of job losses on the horizon, perhaps it is time they thought differently – especially since they charge around £60k to get a degree.

The universities that will take this as a wake up call and start doing more to help their graduates get jobs will be able to avert the warning that comes from Sir Christopher Snowden, vice-chancellor of Surrey University, who said that “The days of a very stable recruitment environment have changed, possibly for ever.”

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