Warning: Your ability to find a job is at serious risk if you go to this university

Oct 20, 2016

If the coming reforms are anything to go by then a graduate will be soon able to clearly see which universities or courses to stay clear of if they really want to find a good job

The main reason for going to university is to get a better job, right? Then wouldn’t it be revolutionary if university courses came with a type of employment rating? The rating would provide information that tells an applicant how other graduates have fared job-wise after leaving a particular institution.

 Think of the great impact it would have on your decision about where to study if you could clearly see whether the institution and course you are about to choose are likely to take you farther from direction you want to go in. Because, let’s face it, all universities or course are not created alike. Some, though offering similar titled courses, leave you better off than others.

Universities really will show employment outcomes

That’s why I was glad to hear about the reforms announced in the recent White Paper on education. Apparently, universities will now have to publish information about the employment prospects of their graduates. This is good news indeed.

This type of information is critical when a student is taking on massive amounts of debt: they need to know whether after they graduate, they are going to stand a good chance of finding the kind of employment that pays enough to repay the debt within their lifetime!

Many institutions make very good links with particular employers and sectors, and all of this can help make it easier for students to gain work experience and find a job after they graduate. The reforms will ‘inspire’ universities to make these links even stronger.

The changes will not only require universities to show job outcomes, but also the ethnicity, gender and background of their graduates: when it comes to employment, is it a good university for overseas students, or for people who come from outside London or from a particular social background?

Incidentally, the White Paper also says universities must widen participation among social groups and tackle the diminishing number of boys choosing to study toward a degree.

Then there is the new Office for Students. It will combat poor contact times between academics, students and parents. So, as an undergrad it will be easier to discuss how you think you’re doing with lecturers who, according to parents and students, currently tend to be elusive.

Fees may increase, too

Other changes include a new band to reflect teaching rather than research credentials, with the top performing universities being given the green light to charge higher than the current £9,000 annual fee. That’s where it gets a bit scary. Fees are high enough and they aren’t linked to outcomes.

One of the most radical reforms discussed in the White Paper is a new type of competition to be introduced. It will come from challenger universities – basically, companies and other institutions who meet certain criteria will now be able to open their own universities and award degrees.

That’s the only reason why I think a hike in the already high student fees might be palatable. I don’t agree with increasing fees but I think having to compete against degree courses from new sources might help raise the standards we need to see. With more players in the field, fees will have to be both competitive and value for money. This will at least keep fee levels in check.

What we should have then are great universities working together with great employers. Taken together, the elements should work like a set of cogs in a machine to create the kind of outcome that inspires young people to go to university in the first place. A graduate level job.

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