back to article Hold on! Degrees for all doesn't mean great jobs for all, say profs

Over-qualified grads are being forced into unsatisfying jobs which don't suit their skills, a report has found. In an article published in the journal Human Relations, Belgin Okay-Somerville (PhD, Human Resource Management) from the University of Aberdeen and Professor (of Human Resource Management) Dora Scholarios from the …


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  1. Anonymous Coward

    It's looking that way in the U.S. too

    I just heard on this weekend's American news panel shows that something like 20% of recent college graduates are working in minimum wage jobs. Unfortunately I can't remember the exact show or the exact percentage.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: It's looking that way in the U.S. too

      But an Art History graduate is ideally suited to burger flipping, as are graduates in Medieval History, Rock Music and Law.

      1. theblackhand

        Re: It's looking that way in the U.S. too

        I'll happily eat a burger of dubious quality, but I draw the line at a wannabe lawyer flipping it.

        Shouldn't there be regulations to avoid lawyers/wannabe lawyers touching human foodstuffs to prevent contamination?

        1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

          Re: It's looking that way in the U.S. too

          It's much safer than having humans touch it.

          There is less chance of cross-species transfer from lawyers

      2. ItsNotMe

        "But an Art History graduate is ideally suited to burger flipping, ..."

        Or my nephews advanced degree in Irish the US...for which he has absolutely no job prospects...but plans to go on for his PhD in the discipline anyway.

        Oh...and he is currently an officer in the US Marines.

        1. Darryl

          Re: "But an Art History graduate is ideally suited to burger flipping, ..."

          Can't remember where I saw it, but this bring to my mind the comment that a philosophy degree is handy when asking WHY you'd like fries with that.

        2. VaalDonkie

          Re: "But an Art History graduate is ideally suited to burger flipping, ..."

          If he's an officer, then surely he would have had to take many courses related to his work?

        3. This post has been deleted by its author

        4. Fibbles

          Re: "But an Art History graduate is ideally suited to burger flipping, ..."

          "Or my nephews advanced degree in Irish the US...for which he has absolutely no job prospects...but plans to go on for his PhD in the discipline anyway."

          Heaven forfend that people should get degrees simply to expand their own knowledge. When did learning things simply for the sake of expanding one's own mind become such a terrible thing?

          If all you want is a piece of paper that will help get you a better job, surely a vocational qualification is the better route?

          1. ItsNotMe

            @VaalDonkie & @ Fibbles


            "If he's an officer, then surely he would have had to take many courses related to his work?"

            Not a one. Because he got the degree long before enlisting in the Marines. He joined the Marines to save the world. That's not working out too well so far.

            He is also a "90 day wonder"...meaning that the ONLY reason he is an officer is because he had a college degree when he signed up...and he came out of boot camp as a Lt. Never spent a nano-second as a "ground-pounder".

            @ Fibbles

            He wasn't taking the degree "for the sake of expanding one's own mind"...he really thinks there are jobs for people with that degree. There are not...that is why he joined the Marines.

            After graduating from college, and before joining the Marines, he had also applied to be a fireman, policeman, Secret Service agent, and on and on with similar positions. His degree has not exactly helped him out in these job applications. And let's not forget his going to college originally with the plan of becoming a professional basketball player. That lasted about one year. He was a lousy basketball player, and his college told him so. Didn't go over well.

            And finally, his father was a senior official in a major trade union in New York City, and got him a job in the union doing what he had been doing. His father made a serious good living as a Master Mechanic for 40+ years. The kid turned his back on it shortly after getting in.

            1. Ross K Silver badge

              Re: @VaalDonkie & @ Fibbles


              He joined the Marines to save the world. That's not working out too well so far.

              Please tell me those are your words, not his.

              If they were his, that's definitive proof that a having college degree is no guarantee of intelligence.

          2. JP19

            Re: "But an Art History graduate is ideally suited to burger flipping, ..."

            "learning things simply for the sake of expanding one's own mind become such a terrible thing?"

            When they ask me to pay for them to do it.

            You have a point, the world has room for a few people studying Irish history, I don't mind funding the brightest and most dedicated with my taxes. When idiot politicians aspire to sending everyone to university the majority better be study something more useful. The world doesn't need every 3rd person to be either a psychologist or lawyer FFS.

      3. ecofeco Silver badge

        Re: It's looking that way in the U.S. too

        "But an Art History graduate is ideally suited to burger flipping, as are graduates in Medieval History, Rock Music and Law."

        So are most biz grads.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: It's looking that way in the U.S. too

      Its been that way in the US(at least where I live)...

      When I graduated college it was about 1 year after the tech burst. Out of 30 people I knew who I kept in touch with after graduation (for about 2 years) only 2 got jobs in the tech sector... One of which already had his job, and just stayed the other only got a job cause he was already employed and had 5 years exp in which allowed him to jump. Went to a wedding for one guy I graduated with I think it was 2-3 years after we graduated, and there were a pile of people I went to school with there all but the groom was unemployed, and in the same situation as me working a dead end job just to pay student loans.

      I still remember graduation day when before we did the graduation walk our dean pulled us all over an told us literally how we were all fucked(he actually used that phrase, and that he prayed we would find any kind of work.

      After that I worked temp tech support(probably one of the worst things you can do as you are treated worst than a piece of trash) for a few months before just dropping out of the IT field and accepted a menial dead end job for a little above minimum wage to stay alive, and pay off those insane student loans. Flash forward 9 years still at same menial job barely making ends meet, had a few temp IT gigs in between, again treated worst than a piece of trash.

      All the barely decent jobs also require 5 years experience for the entry level where I live, funny thing most people I told that to online in guild chat in a popular MMO I used to play were telling me I was full of it till one member said that is the exact issue her husband hit when they moved for her work (she seems to have made more then him, and had to move for work), and funny enough she moved to my city...

      My sister graduated college recently(4 months ago) with a degree in a different field(even after I told her not to waste the money, and time), and hit the same exact issue no jobs at all for entry level that don't require 3-5 years exp already.

      AC for various reasons

  2. LarsG

    'Lousy jobs' was this survey run by an American.

    I hate these americanisms.

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Lousy Jobs

        May have referred to what you found in your hair, as it is, it is an Americanism that is a fact.

        1. This post has been deleted by its author

          1. Hungry Sean

            @Def Re: Lousy Jobs

            Speaking as a yank, what the hell are you talking about?

            Lousy means bad, crappy. As in, "every day it's the same lousy job."

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          "that is a fact"

          [citation needed]

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Eh? That's pretty common usage in the UK from even when I was a kid.

      ... many, many years ago. <sigh>

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Statistically this is not a surprise

    90,000 opt to study Law and there are only on average 3,500 vacancies a year in the profession, if that.

    When I graduated with my Law Degree in 1994 these statistics where pretty much the same,

    In the last 19 years 1,710,000 students studied Law though in the same period there were only ever 66,500 job vacancies ever available.

    Maybe each university course should publish the statistics of the availability of jobs in any given field. This would put things into perspective and not leave the student with a false expectation.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Statistically this is not a surprise

      You fail to point out that the most important qualification in becoming a Solicitor or Barrister are your family connections.

      1. Mad Mike

        Re: Statistically this is not a surprise

        Maybe, but the same logic would apply. Don't bother getting a law degree unless you have the required non-academic 'qualifications' to actually make it a serious job opportunity!!

    2. Pete 2 Silver badge

      Where lawyers go to die - or at least smell bad

      > n the last 19 years 1,710,000 students studied Law though in the same period there were only ever 66,500 job vacancies ever available.

      And the rest are to found polluting the internet with their own personal views of what's legal or illegal (or worse: right and wrong, though the two have no connection whatsoever). Based on no experience at all.

      It's probably a good thing, though. This country really doesn't need 90,000 new lawyers every year - though with so many excessively legal-jargon qualified, even if not all of them graduate, is it really any wonder that this country is becoming so litigious?

      1. Malmesbury

        Re: Where lawyers go to die - or at least smell bad

        To be fair to layers (not something I do on a regular basis) a law degree will be seen as useful and work related in many jobs which are not actually being a layer. Essentially you will be seen as having studied something serious and potentially useful.

        One part of this that doesn't get mentioned enough is this. The cry that "everyone must go to uni" was based on the idea that they is no industry in this country so everyone needs to get a white collar job. Ironically, there are very large numbers of "blue collar" jobs in the UK and many are now paid far better than crappy white collar jobs.

        These "blue collar" jobs require skills and training. A degree from a second rate university in something bland isn't much help.

        We are being trapped by a pre 1950 view that getting on in life means getting into an office. Otherwise you end up shoveling coal or something.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Where lawyers go to die - or at least smell bad

          "We are being trapped by a pre 1950 view that getting on in life means getting into an office. Otherwise you end up shoveling coal or something."

          The pre-50s view was actually quite balanced. Before 1944 it was recognised that the output of Junior Technical Schools was quickly recruited into various skilled industries and services. The output of Grammar Schools was either unemployed or mostly in menial clerical jobs - only a few went on to university.

          The 1944 Education Act reformed secondary education to create Secondary Technical Schools with an equal 11+ examination standing to Grammar Schools. However in the 1960s the extra costs of equipment and industry-trained teachers were a major reason for Technical Schools being merged into either Grammar Schools or Comprehensives. The purveyor of the "White Heat of Technology" rhetoric was also destroying the schools that had the focus to deliver on that objective.

    3. Aristotle

      Re: Statistically this is not a surprise

      I think there is a lot of truth in many views expressed in the comments to the "Hold on! Degrees for all doesn't mean great jobs for all, say profs" article.

      I agree with this post that guiding not just under-grads but school pupils to understand there are a finite amount of jobs and it may be best to to choose one where the probability of employment will be low is less than ideal. There happens to be a utter and total lack of career guidance in schools so how you expect and poor child to understand how to map what they are good at to a job that will satisfy them is beyond me. Some people still have that problem at the end of their career.

      I agree with latter posts about the HR departments who have no clue how to choose who to employ and/or give answers to why a person was rejected that are nonsensical.

      I am no lover of the last Labor gov. but the goal of a better educated workforce in and environment where knowledge is power is to be lauded. As a product of an apprenticeship and a degree myself, it is obvious that just going to university is not the answer for everyone. This is a case in point of a politician coming up with an idea and its implementation not being thought through. Is it the politicians fault, yes and no. They have others to do some of the checking things work properly hmmm I think they are civil servants? If the politician does not concentrate beyond the sound byte to ensure things are happening correctly then ... well they do not always end up with what they want.

      CS degrees are good for those who are interested in them, as long as relevance to real industry practice is incorporated into those degrees. Oops that's why we had polytechnic's, wasn't it? You will find well educated smart people from any/many backgrounds understanding and being able to teach IT topics very well. Why shouldn't you all that is required to learn is an interest in something and facilities to satisfy that interest.

      As ever the answer is not to fix an isolated attribute but to address many things at the same time. I am amazed someone pays people to produce papers/articles such as this one that are blindingly obvious to anyone with an ounce of smarts.

      YES you have to have an educated workforce, NO there is not one path to that goal, Yes if you fail to make students aware of market forces and statistics in the job market, as well as a host of other things, or they are likely to be disappointed.

      You have to work in the society in which we live the art is to find something that doesn't bore you to death everyday and if you are like me like 90% of the time.

      Politicians and industry need to work to an end goal, the present problem is so much of industry has been decimated you have to a job to find industry and then have to dis-entangle their comment from their self-interest when they put their view forward. This is not limited to Electronics it covers performing arts, medicine, IT, etc. All the countless other I could name. Its up to everyone to address this issue or to stop moaning and reap the result. Society has to be balanced it takes a lot of ingredients to make the recipe.

      1. Vic

        Re: Statistically this is not a surprise

        > the goal of a better educated workforce in and environment where knowledge is power is to be lauded.


        But I'm not sure we have either of those...


    4. riparian zone

      Re: Statistically this is not a surprise

      Asbolutely. No typo.

      Expectations need to be managed to engage students in the gritty realities before, during and after their learning. A Roman philosopher (Seneca) said that expectations caused anger and sadness; if a learning institution can't engage with the environment beyond its walls, then why are people paying..?

    5. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: Statistically this is not a surprise

      Stats like this are why places like Vet schools viciously weed out as many as they can in first year.

      Not quite so good ones end up as biochemists, etc (Along wih the really good ones who discover they're simply not cut out for a career where half their time is spent euthenasing animals)

      It's also why there are "elitist" law schools - those are the ones who only let people who are likely to GET jobs, graduate. (Same applies to various "elitist" instiutions, though at least the rejects form those places can usually find jobs fairly easily as paralegals, assistants, etc)

      Funnily enough even the Army has standards. A lot of recruits get weeded out because they're not intelligent enough - and that requirement gets higher every year because they can't afford to have Johnny Hobnail breaking everything in sight.

  4. Mad Mike


    I have been told by a friend who is a nurse, that many of the new recruits are in it only for the degree. To quality as a nurse these days, you get a degree in nursing and apparently the number who leave nursing after getting their degree is much higher than it used to be and getting higher. They don't want to nurse, they want a degree. Presumably, this is why the scandals in nursing are happening as well. Some nurses simply don't give a s**t and are in it only for the money, career (get out of hands on nursing and become a manager as soon as possible) and the degree. So, why do they care about actually taking care of people and treating them reasonably?

    1. Bill the Sys Admin

      Re: Nursing

      Girlfriend is a nurse and it would appear what you are saying is right on the money.

      Also as a recent graduate I can confirm that most of these people wont get degree's, they will drop out, be kicked out or just disappear before the end of 2nd year. When your marks actually matter in 3rd. People go to university now because its the social norm. And the first 2 years are a total waste of time (im not moaning I very much enjoyed myself) but those years are really there to wade through the crap that applies. The best courses now are the ones where you get a years work placement. I did then manage to get an internship before my finishing year. So I had 2 relevant jobs once I was let loose on the job market.

      1. Euchrid

        Re: Nursing

        @ Bill the Sys Admin

        Actually, the retention rate (i.e. how many complete their course) for student nurses is fairly high. Although it's not uncommon for such students to intermit from their programme, it's often for a period of time and will resume at a later date.

        The NHS pays for the course fees and institutions are under natural pressure to try and retain students. If someone doesn't qualify, the institution won't receive a penny.

        Also, marks matter on a nursing degree right off the bat - students need to achieve (and maintain) a certain standard both academically and in practice in order to remain and progess on the course. Bear in mind that 50% of their course will be inpractice.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward


          Que? What on earth does "intermit" mean? Think we need a few more graduates in English, as gets plainer by the day reading such sites as this one. Communication in a clear, widely spoken and consistently used standard language is one of the most critical skills for all jobs and even more so for "technical" work. If you can not use your own language properly (I assume most here are English speakers), how can you be trusted with the even more limiting and strict rules of, for example, a computer programming language or shell script? How can we be sure you understand a user's requirements or write a specification intelligible to someone else?

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: intermit????????

            Intermit is a perfectly valid word having it's origins from the latin intermittere, of course it has only been in use for a few centuries so not every english speaking person should be expected to know it exists.

            1. Magani

              @AC 11:35 Re: intermit????????

              "Intermit is a perfectly valid word having it's origins from the latin intermittere, of course it has only been in use for a few centuries so not every english speaking person should be expected to know it exists."

              "it's" is a perfectly valid word having its origins from the English "it is", of course it has only been in use for a few centuries so not every Latin speaking person should be expected to know it exists.

      2. Rob

        @ Bill the Sys Admin

        I agree, I did a year of fornicating and drinking and eventually got bored of that and dropped out of university. I then went back to FE and HE and got some relevant qualifications for my trade.

    2. Euchrid

      Re: Nursing

      @Mad Mike

      Actually, I would say that used to happen more often – often, the students wanted to getting into pharmaceutical sales, where a science degree was needed, and a nursing degree was financially easier. It was possible to do the diploma course for two years (which had an automatic bursary) and then switch to the degree programme in the last year. (For quite a few years, until it was scrapped, there was very little difference between the diploma and degree course, incidentally).

      Since the move to all degree courses, the competition for student nursing places has rocketed and it’s a lot harder to get accepted. Interviewing is often part of the application process and consequently, it’s harder for people to get accepted if they don’t have a realistic view of nursing and/or have no interest in it as career – that’s not to say it doesn’t happen. Today, personally, I would say the bigger problems are a lack of jobs after students qualify (trusts are going after cheaper options) and students growing disillusioned by constant healthcare provision changes, rather than students trying to gain a degree sneakily.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Nursing

      Completely agree with you there! I'm currently on a course to get into a degree for nursing, and some of the students I have the pleasure of studying with have absolutely no care experience. They simply want to get onto a nursing degree for the "crack of it", not because they have an interest in actually looking after people. One of the best comments I've heard so far from one young lady when talking about the fun and shenanigans of dealing with bodily fluids (and semi solids for that matter!) was "ewwww, I don't want to clean up poo, that not a nurse's job, the carers do that. I just want to do the management stuff!".

      To be honest, a lot of students DO drop out in the first / second year when they realise that cleaning up poop and washing old mens feet that haven't seen the light of day outside of the socks they have been wearing for n weeks isn't quite for them, but hey, rough with the smooth right?

      And... if the 'guvmint do bring in their policy of all nursing students having had to have had upto a year of care experience or having to complete a year of care experience before even being allowed anywhere near a university then that can only be a good thing, but, vacancies schmakeancies. Where are all these people going to work? Private care homes? Community carers? Maybe get lucky and actually get a job in a NHS hospital?

      All I have seen so far is the majority of private healthcare providers are interested in profits, and not 110% patient care. National minimum wage for carers doing a handsome, rewarding job when the shareholders / management get silly money for simply getting more bums in beds is madness.

      The issue with scandals is that there are people, whilst knowing their job or being able to provide care correctly are under mammoth stress and strain from managers etc, and therefore they become entangled in not treating their staff or fellow workers with respect, or cutting the care so far down to the knuckle, they themselves become seen as the enemy, when really, it is the people at the top who need to have to suffer some illness, some disorder where they receive care directly from the hands of the carers at the bottom, with no special treatment whatsoever. They MIGHT just stop and think then.

      But, they won't.

      Just my 2p worth.... and yes, I worked in IT before giving it all up for a change of career. Funny how working part time as a carer for a few years makes you realise what life is really all about.....!

      Anon for very good reasons...

  5. SuperTim


    I recall that when I went to university, I got in to the course I wanted but my friend didn't (same course). When I turned up there were at least 10 students who had got onto the course through clearing. The course was a CAD/CAE course and these clearing students were arts and humanities dropouts who had no interest in either computers or engineering/design. They were there to avoid getting a job and not because they had a vocation. I was lucky and got a relevant and well paid job after university (it did take a while to secure). Degrees are now so devalued that I sometimes interview people with degrees who are astoundingly stupid and seemingly incapable. It does seem that the degree is now just a certificate of attendance.

    1. Mad Mike

      Re: clearing...


      I too have interviewed people with degrees and what egos some have. They seem to think you should offer the job just because of the degree!! After interviewing a good few, I soon found out that having or not having a degree means almost nothing. The degree candidates weren't really any better than the ones without and quite often having a decent bit of work history said far more than the educational qualifications.

      So, to me, the degree became a complete nonsense and got ignored. It told me nothing about the holder.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: clearing...

        Both Mad Mike and SuperTim explain what irritates me about uni. I wanted to get into IT and was pretty flexible because I wanted to learn most of it. I was good at it at school and went to college to follow up on the subject. However no employer would look at my CV without the degree being there.

        So I went to uni with a load of kids who just didnt want a job and had no interest in IT. While at uni I saw another problem with job hunting, they all wanted experience too!!! I had left school with an interest, followed up on that interest, went to uni as a requirement to get a job then find I need experience as well.

        I was lucky. I worked for free as a software developer and that got me employed pretty quick (50ish applications, 3 interviews). Everyone else competed for the graduate jobs which were far less than the graduates. Few of my friends got them.

        I did work with a lad who didnt go to college or uni but was a far better developer than anyone I had met to that point.

        1. Mad Mike

          Re: clearing...


          The 'requirement' for a degree generally means you're working for a company/manager who doesn't really understand what they need. They put out a whole load of requirements off the top of their heads and then take the 10 closest CVs and employ one of them. Maybe i'm out of touch, but the job profiles we put out had no real pre-requisites and even said that trainees would be considered if they showed 'aptitude' and 'willingness'. To me, someone with little experience, but obviously suited (through interview) and a drive to do well, is worth far more than someone with a lot of experience and qualifications who thinks the world owes them a living!!

          So, all this means you have to read every CV and interview a lot more people. However, I personally found the interview to be the most eye opening and important part and generally you learnt far more from that, than anything else. Employers should not be afraid to interview a lot of people and also not be afraid of not employing for some time. You're looking for the 'right' person, not the 'right now' person.

          1. Tom 38

            Re: clearing...

            The 'requirement' for a degree generally means you're working for a company/manager who doesn't really understand what they need.

            Not really, it just means you are working for a company that has an HR department. "No degree" is a standard first level filter for HR.

            1. Mad Mike

              Re: clearing...

              @Tom 38.

              indeed so. However, this also means the manager is willing to let the HR department dictate what he needs for the job. This either indicates the HR department has too much power (poor company) or the manager is useless and just accepts it rather than fighting for what is actually required.

              To be fair, a lot of job adverts now have a degree or suitable equivalent experience, whatever that means. Guess it's simply a get out of jail for anything else if they think the candidate is suitable.

  6. Schultz

    Assembly-line degrees

    There is a change in the University system that is not mentioned in the article or the comments so far: The great inflation in University degrees. Can you realistically expect that some 50% of pupils with a degree will find the same type of interesting jobs that some elite 5% did some 50 years ago (statistics purely invented, but I am sure there is a place where they might match).

    Also, it used to be that University graduates would be expected to be thinking on the job, not just applying learned knowledge. Especially in the hard sciences, your acquired knowledge from the University days will age very fast. So, points 1 and 2 in the job satisfaction survey kind of miss the point ("1) The extent to which the skills learned at university are used. 2) How closely a graduate's other skills match those required in the job).

    Sorry, the study missed the point and someone should not graduate.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Is a degree worth the paper it is written on?

    Well, not according to one HR droid who interviewed me three years ago. She went on and on grilling me why I'd left school at 15 (those were the days) and didn't go to University.

    I did indeed leave school at 15. I did a 4yr apprenticeship as a toolmaker. Then I went to Polytechnic and did a degree in Engineering (got a 1st). I've since done an MSC (Open University) and MBA. None of these counted for anything.

    A few weeks after the interview, I got a letter from the company stating that they would not be offering me a job as I was not sufficiently qualified. Being a bit peeved, I called them up and asked what was missing from my qualifications.

    They replied that because I didn't have 'A' level English I wasn't offered the job. They were a bit put out when I reminded them that I had (At that time) three books in print and two more in preparation.

    I'm now 61yrs old and hopefully in my last job before I retire.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Is a degree worth the paper it is written on?

      I was asked the same question, why when I left school at 18 I didn't go to University. 'Probably because I joined the Army,' I replied.

      I did go to University when I was 26 years old to finish off my education, needless to say I didn't get that one. I got the next one though.

    2. Neil Barnes Silver badge

      Re: Is a degree worth the paper it is written on?

      Indeed. I was recently bounced from consideration from a job because I couldn't recall/prove the grades and subjects I got for O and A level - thirty-five years ago. The BSc and the MSc (and a couple of other pointless post-grad certificates and diplomas) I hold didn't seem to impress them at all.

      On the other hand, for my MSc - computing for commerce and industry - the amount of code assessed in my dissertation was exactly zero...

      1. Sandra Greer

        Re: Is a degree worth the paper it is written on?

        A lot of this is simply discrimination against older applicants. HR departments are full of flimsy minds with crap educations, but one thing they know how to do is get the cheapest person for the job.

    3. Yag

      Re: Is a degree worth the paper it is written on?

      Not the right question... Should be instead

      "Is a HR droid worth the money it is paid?"

  8. Rentaguru

    Not news

    Back in '80 when less than half the sixth form at my state grammar (yes there was still a few selective state grammars around even that late) it was perfectly obvious that perhaps 20% of those then going to university would benefit from it and even less to the extent that it would improve their contibution to society.

    Given that even then we were obviously wasting resources over-educating 4 out of 5 who went to university it follows that even if you exclude all the ex-polys reform schools prisons etc that have been allowed university status that these days 49 out of 50 university places are wasted.

    Oh yeah I went to Pembroke Oxford on a full grant .... at the right time to personally observe william hague's discomfort around women and his refusal to come out as he should! The only real benefit was it taught me the arrogance necessary to make others believe the world is mine.

    Mines the one with your lunch in my pocket.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Not news@Rentaguru

      Personal attacks on William Hagues sexuality have no place here, leave that for the Daily Mail.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: AC 07:50

        Bollocks. Politicians' should be attacked on every occasion, starting with the unacceptable news that they breathe our oxygen.

        1. I think so I am?
          Paris Hilton

          Re: AC 07:50

          Wonder if they would try to claim that as an expense. Breathing someone else oxygen.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: AC 07:50

          > Politicians' should be attacked on every occasion

          Right after the apostrophe abusers.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: AC 07:50

            Genuine typo - mea culpa - someone mentioned politicians and the red mist came down...

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: AC 07:50

              If you can't keep a clear head when fighting politicians then they have won. Work on it.

      2. Rentaguru

        Re: Not news@Rentaguru

        Hold on - I'm not attacking his sexuality merely his cowardice in not being honest.

        1. Vic

          Re: Not news@Rentaguru

          > I'm not attacking his sexuality merely his cowardice in not being honest.


          You do know his chosen profession, right?


    2. LPF
      Thumb Up

      Re: Not news

      "his refusal to come out as he should!" christ I thought it was only me, its sooooo obvious! and the thing is his wife is as fit as a butchers dog, and wants kids as well :(

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Not news

      Advanced academic education has long produced paradoxes. In the 1930s it was observed that many Grammar School leavers were unemployed for a long time - and most had clerical jobs that did not use their academic skills. On the other hand the Junior Technical School leavers had low unemployment and found skilled jobs.

      In the 1960s the computer industry employed a few Oxford Mathematics Firsts. They also had a large number of innovative people who had either not gone to university, dropped out, or had PhDs in strange subjects. One person with a PhD realised that it qualified them to design soap powders for the rest of their career.

      However higher management were slowly deciding that they should recruit new graduates for the programming departments. This was before any Computer Science courses existed. One History and Politics graduate turned out to have a mental inability to understand hexadecimal numbering - to the extent he could never grasp why "9" was followed by "ABCDEF".

      Yours truly, without a degree, was refused a transfer to the Operating System Division as a systems programmer. The Computer Bureau Support department were not so picky as they reckoned that a good track record was more important than paper qualifications. Two years later the Operating System Division were headhunting the person who was fixing so many nasty bugs in their products. They were politely told to get lost - it was much more fun, if not so prestigious, in Support.

  9. jake Silver badge

    How Victorian.

    Those who can, do.

    Those who can learn to pass tests, teach.

    Those without clues become society's automatons.

    1. hplasm

      Re: How Victorian.

      Close but only banana/2 for you...

      Those who can, do.

      Those who can learn to pass tests, teach.

      Those without clues become the rulers...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: How Victorian.

        Thought it was

        Those who can, do

        Those who can't, teach

        Those who can't teach become OFSTED inspectors

        1. Don Jefe

          Re: How Victorian.

          Teaching as a vocation has nothing to do with ability, or at least it shouldn't. Many of my best professors had successful previous careers in their chosen fields of instruction and truly enjoyed teaching the next generation the ins and outs of the field.

          My wish would be that a professor had to have a minimum level if experience in their field of instruction (maybe 10 years?) before they could teach: That way they could give practical lessons relating to the field instead of recycling what they learned when getting their degrees.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: How Victorian.

          Those who can, do.

          Those who can't, teach.

          Those who can't teach, administrate.

          And those who can't administrate, administrate.

          1. Peter Stone

            Re: How Victorian.

            My version of the saying is

            Those who can, do.

            Those who can't, teach.

            Those who can't teach, become Ofstead inspectors!

            (After experience gained from going through several of them).

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: How Victorian.

            * ADMINISTER

            An administrator ADMINISTERS things.

            "The servers are administered by a highly-qualified professional"

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: How Victorian.

              ad-min-is-trate -- verb [ with obj. ] less common term for ADMINISTER. Origin mid 16th cent.

  10. Anonymous Coward

    Fail at the first hurdle

    The very use of the term "Human Resources" should disqualify anything further from such a report. Utterly degrading term. One suspects that reference to people as "human resources" think they're being seriously hard-nosed capitalists, yet in "Wealth of Nations," so often used by these nutters as a bible, Adam Smith uses the example of work specialisation in pin manufacture to gain efficiency _as a warning_ not as a positive reference. His worry was that mindless work creates mindless people, and that this was an immoral outcome to create.

    Anyway, anyone with any real world experience knows that in some jobs which some consider dreadful, others thrive in. It's the role of these so-called "human resources" morons to find the right people to ensure round pegs appear in round holes. At this they are spectacularly adept at failing.

    Disclaimer - my wife worked in the personnel dept. at one company, when a new broom came in and demanded that the dept. now be called Human Resources. The rot soon set in, so she left as she could no longer do a decent job.

    Discalimer 2 - After 20+ years in IT, I have gone back to Uni and am just completing an Hons BA. It's obvious to the Real World that here are few degrees that are merely vocational, so does it really come as a surprise when simplistic qualification matching algorithms don't work?

    1. Neil Barnes Silver badge

      Re: Fail at the first hurdle

      Personnel Department: we at least maintain a fiction that our employees are people, and the company cares about them.

      Human Resources: you are a plug-in replaceable part...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Fail at the first hurdle

        There was a time when your divisional Personnel Officer took a positive interest in your career. A truly neutral person with your best interests at heart when you asked for advice on your next step.

        When it became HR then line management became responsible for career progression. That meant a vested interest in hanging on to a talent for themselves - or not letting the person become a challenge to their own position.

  11. Gordan

    Full marks for eloquence

    "Naturally these are a long way from the sort of jobs once dished out to graduates in the days when a degree was a rare badge of distinction, rather than something which fell out of your cornflakes packet following three years of alcohol-fuelled fornication."

    I can see this sentence being recycled many times.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Full marks for eloquence

      "I can see this sentence being recycled many times"

      Reading many autobiographies it seems that a university experience of "three years of alcohol-fuelled fornication" is not a new thing. However the consequence was often being sent down - or getting a bare pass before going to the legendary prep-teacher and tutor employment agency of Dickensian name.

      Simon Raven did buck the trend by getting a good degree - even though his school/army days autobiography "Shadows on the Grass" has been called "the filthiest cricket book ever written".

      On the other hand a youngster recently finished a Sports Science course with the lowest degree possible. He reckoned much of his overspend was on exploiting the seduction properties of Nando's. Yet in an area of massive unemployment he managed to find a job, and almost instant promotion, in an online betting company. No doubt his vast online poker experience helped. He will go far.

  12. Arms Control Poser


    "It seems safe to say, however, that [CS degrees] of more use in general than a degree in english.."

    English (note we use capitals for proper nouns) graduate here, several times over. I work part of my time with clever technical people, filling-out grant applications for Eng Lit-related projects so that they can eat and we can do interesting things together. They seem to like working on humanities stuff a lot better than CRM data. Off the top of my head, I can also think of seven colleagues with graduate degrees in English who do Proper Coding - things like web-database development, server admin, text-mining, developing image-processing algorithms... it's true that they are in the minority, but so too are CS graduates who can apply deep and creative solutions straight out of university.

    There's a wider problem with your snark, though: you don't define "of more use". Being of use is hardly a skill in itself: - did you mean of use to the country, to humanity, or to yourself ("in general" doesn't really cut it as a qualifier - it could refer to any or none of these things)? A humanities degree would help you be a lot more precise in future, but I'd specifically recommend, for you, a degree in English as the best way of thinking about how your language is part of you, makes you part of a community (we could call it a nation, but that gets messy, historically and factually, with the English language and the current politics), and as a member of a species who can make funny noises and squiggles which are somewhat meaningful to others, although - and this is part of the interest, not always in the same way, so comment sections, literary criticism, democracy etc.

    Or would you rather carry on waving your tiny flag over those who you imagine to be your peers?

    1. CatoTheCat

      Re: Usage

      Punctuation taught by Arnold Rimmer, comma ?

  13. SillySqlSquirrel

    But why get one at all...

    I have spent half the time (1-2yrs) of a computing degree self studying, practicing, testing and generally working my bollocks of at a rate 2x that of an education establishment, and am happily in a well payed job i suspect mostly because i have no formal qualifications, so my pay threshold is lower to start with, but do also have a greater flexibility in how i work. Plus, it's always nice for someone with qualifications to come to me for help because the way they were shown at uni, "doesn't work". So growing up on the hard streets of IT has been invaluable to me as you learn the hard way, but it helps sculpt you to the methodology that is needed in a critical infrastructure job today.

    I will at some point get these qualifications, but those jobs that *are* suitable for grads are going to people like me with real world experience for less buck.

    There was an article not long ago about how only 25% of companies surveyed actually require qualifications on paper.

    I'm not going to waste 3/4 years at uni when i can earn a living and get an education at the same time, plus while friends coming out of uni with IT Degrees are tinkering with neighbors PC's while working 20 hours a week in Sainsburys...

  14. Cliff

    What makes lousy?

    I'm an engineer by training, at one point I could have had a stab at designing you a factory line, but now work in entertainment. It took time, but am now paid about the same as I used to get as an engineer, I use a few of the skills I was taught, I certainly use the same engineering mindset I always had naturally. I am happy in my work, far happier than any job tied directly to my degree made me, yet on this scale I would have a lousy job. Wouldn't swap for toffee!

    Why say this? Well, the assumptions that go into studies like this change the outcome. Confirmation bias and all that. In other words, what a waste of time and effort!

  15. Dazed and Confused

    (PhD, Human Resource Management)

    You can get a PhD in What!

    No wonder we're all F*&ked

    I thought the only qualification for "working" in personnel was being good at gossiping.

  16. Whyfore

    Supply/Demand is the problem

    Both the Physics and Mechanical Engineering departments closed while I was studying at due to lack of students, while Social Science classes were apparently seating over 300 people per class...

  17. TheOtherHobbes

    Official statistics

    show that comp sci has the worst employment rate of all subject categories, including languages, education, art and design, etc.

    Listed here by subject.

  18. Longrod_von_Hugendong


    all jobs are shit, i only work cos i need money. If i had enough i wouldnt work.

    The only parameter that is open for interpretation is 'enough' If you are still working you dont have enough.

  19. Anonymous Coward

    Quelle surprise!

    I could've told you that!

    Apprenticeships, practical experience... that's what the market wants, not some pie-in-the-sky graduate who believes they can dictate the salary based on the fact that they went to uni or something. And yes, unfortunately, certain... *ahem* government leanings have led to people going for degrees, running up debts and then whining about how they are hard done by instead of learning trades that are incredibly sought-after, well-paid and surprisingly, have a very high job satisfaction rate. I guess saying 'I'm a plumber' or 'I'm an electrician' doesn't quite have the same cachet as 'I've got a first-rate degree in sociology, specialising in yadda-yadda-yadda', even though the plumber/lecky-bloke is the one with the Beemer because he's bloody good and in demand.

    That said though, on the other side, some HR people get too hung up on the "you don't have a 2:1 in..." instead of picking up on the fact that you have 15 years of real-world experience.

  20. fedoraman

    Douglas Adams

    ... was an English Graduate. And I can't imagine a better job than being DNA.

    Just wanted to say that :-)

    1. Mad Mike

      Re: Douglas Adams

      And there's nothing wrong with being an English graduate if it helps in your chosen career. As he wrote books, I assume an English degree would have been a help. However, taking your English degree and saying it qualities you to design rockets or something is not really useful. If you look around the City of London, you'll find an awful lot of people with degrees that bear no resemblance to what they're doing. Is there a correlation between that and loosing lots of money/banking crashes etc.?

      1. mark 63 Silver badge

        Re: Douglas Adams

        Yeah - I wonder what all those Politician's degrees are in?

        Just in case its relevent to their job (and to avoid gaining any expertise in their field) they have a cabinet "Re-Shuffle" periodically just make sure everyone is new, inexperienced and floundering.

        1. a cynic writes...

          Re: Douglas Adams

          Yeah - I wonder what all those Politician's degrees are in?

          Since you asked:

          Classics (Oxford) - Boris Johnson

          Modern history (Oxford) - George Osborne

          Archaeology & Anthropology (Cambridge) - Nick "the non-conformist" Clegg

          Politics, Philosophy & Economics - The Rest

          The last politician with a science degree to reach high office died this morning.

          1. Alan Brown Silver badge

            Re: Douglas Adams

            "Politics, Philosophy & Economics - The Rest"

            Yet none with economics qualifications are holding that kind of post.

  21. Shasta McNasty

    Kids today...

    When I was choosing my degree back in the 90s it was based on the following factors

    1, What are the chances of getting a job in that profession?

    2, What is the pay for that job?

    3, What are the career prospects for that profession?

    4, How interested will I be?

    There are too many people picking degrees, without any career research, in subjects that have no prospects and then complain when they can't get a job that uses that degree.

    The universities should state the graduate:industry employment success rate beside each course just next to the entry points required so people know what they're getting in to and can spot an expensive waste of time.

    1. Mad Mike

      Re: Kids today...

      Why should the universities provide the figures? Do the people applying need spoon feeding again. If you did the research, why shouldn't the student of today? You don't need tables of statistics either. Just look around you, at job adverts etc.etc. Basically, some students need to take responsibility for their own education and stop expecting everyone else to do it for them. It's like a dependency culture. Some students expect someone else to do everything for them.

      1. Shasta McNasty

        Re: Kids today...

        I completely agree that in the end, it is entirely up to them to sort out their own lives and that as a society we molly-coddle people far too much (but right now, that is a different rant).

        The point I was trying (and failed) to make was that if universities had to state these stats, all but the dumbest would take some notice and hopefully it would give them the kick in the arse they need to get up and take a look at the industry as a whole before jumping blindly in to a course based on nothing but the shiny prospectus.

    2. Sooty

      Re: Kids today...

      I went through all of that process, what are the prospects, money, enjoyment etc, and like a lot of people in the 90's came up with IT as the answer (software engineering in my case)

      Unfortunately the IT work prior to the millennium was no reflection of the work afterwards, the panic was over an not a lot happened. Due to the sheer number of people who came to the same conclusion that IT was a good career option, and the drop off in available jobs, it wasn't a good market by the time I finished my degree. I actually did end up with a career in IT, but I don't know anyone else I work with who actually has an IT related degree.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Kids today...

        "it wasn't a good market by the time I finished my degree. "

        Which is why you need to look ahead and not just at what's in demand right now.

        It's the same mindset which has had IT people frantically training to be plumbers/electricians/gasfitters, and which will turn out twice as many graduates are there are positions available over the next 5 years.

        The fact of the matter is that most of IT is mindless slog fixing bloody windows problems and it's paid badly - which in turn drives the mindset by HR and management that everything in IT is PCs and can be fixed by cheap monkeys, which in turn leads to bad decisions such as the recent ones in universities about mail systems which lead certain UK establishments to spend £5 million quid moving everything from an inhouse system which neeeded 30k worth of upgrades to a "free" system operated by Google or Microsoft that has a support loading 20 times higher than the old system.

        Saving 30-100k in capex seems to far outweigh having to employ 20 more staff simply to answer the helldesk. It doesn't make sense in terms of costs of time wasted at both ends of the phone, plus rapidly rising staff resentment levels. (Then again, if they could be induced to storm HR this might be a good hting.)

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Kids today...

      1, What are the chances of getting a job in that profession?

      This one seems to be ignored my many. Remember a year or two back a report on graduate careers commented that (it was alleged due to popularity of CSI:*, Waking the Dead etc etc) there had been a surge in people wanting to do "forensics" with several univerities offering degress in forensics ... only problem was that there were more students in each year than there were forensic people employed by all the police forces in the UK + the police were intending on continuing to do their own forensic training

    4. Brenda McViking

      Re: Kids today...

      As a recently graduated "Kid of today" I'd like to add my tuppence to this (As I was taught I had the right to an opinion... haha). Throughout school, we were told what we should do, at every turn. The first choice I made about my future was which GCSE options I chose - and even then, the majority were automatically chosen for me. Then came A-Levels, and we were told to go with our highest GCSE grades, and which subjects we enjoyed.

      Throughout A-Levels, we were consistently told that we were destined for university. If you didn't want to go to university, then you were met with a "Why not?" and given no further help in deciphering your options. I appreciate the need for having to work it out yourself, but seeing as you are not given that freedom AT ALL at school, then it's hardly surpising when people are at a loss of what to do - so they follow the flow, which leads to university.

      Then you have the unenviable task of choosing your "future," which bearing in mind you probably have no life experience up to this point other than school, is rather a difficult situation to be put into. Throughout school, you're told to follow what you're told. If you ask too many questions, the answer you recieve is "it's not in the national curriculum. You don't need to know." Teachers themselves are usually straight out of university, and have no life experience either - something I have only just come to realise. Those who do have experience are a rare thing - and I am where I am today because of them, and grateful beyond words toward them.

      Is it any suprise then, that we get huge amounts of students whose only task in life thus far has been to get into university, then 3-4 years later realising that the course they did is actually of very little use in the real world? We were told and promised that this was the way to get a good job. "work hard, go to university, and get a degree," "Graduates earn more over their lifetimes than non-graduates, government research shows." I'm sorry, but as a child who has been given no responsiblity, and even had responsibilities actively taken away by the H&S brigade over the last decade, what the hell were we supposed to do other than go with the flow? The education system is the one that is wrong, together with the current values of society that children are to be protected from making their own mistakes.

      I was lucky. My "flow" led to engineering, and I did land a graduate job, having got off my behind during the first weeks of university (while my compatriates were getting inebriated) to get sponsorship from a company for my impending 4 year degree. I landed on my feet. My school friends weren't nearly so lucky, and a lot are languishing in the catch 22 of being overqualified with no experience - and in a slow jobs market, who is going to take on the risk of a recent graduate who might not be able to get out of bed in the morning and might be useless? They're working in sales, most of them, preferring that to the dole, which is their other option. Quelle suprise?

      But whilst I accept that managing your own destiny is an individual responsibility, I question why we were never told this during our education, impressionable as we were, and I cannot accept that we are to bear the full blame for this. It's not like we had a vote in how we were educated, was it? Your good selves, on the other hand...

      Regardless of blame, it is a problem which doesn't seem to be being solved, and that, for me, is the worrying part.

      1. Shasta McNasty

        Re: Kids today...

        So are you saying its not the fault of the students because they aren't being told that they shouldn't need to be told what to do?

  22. Dodgy Geezer Silver badge

    ...*We're aware of the heated debate among our readers (and some of our staff) as to whether computer science degrees are of any use in doing actual technology jobs. It seems safe to say, however, that they're of more use in general than a degree in english, psychology etc. -Ed....

    I have had a VERY productive and lucrative (so far!) career in technical computing (subgenre security).

    My degree is in Medieval English and Philosophy.

    FWIW, my personal belief is that if you want to code in multiple languages, and particularly in machine code, there is no better initial discipline to get under your belt than a thorough grounding in Latin.

    1. Thecowking

      In all fairness though, if you want to do _anything_ you should really know Latin.

      I did Astrophysics at uni, but damned if I don't use Latin more in my day to day life*.

      *Largely using it as an etymological base for doing the Times 2 Crossword at lunch.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      FWIW, my personal belief is that if you want to code in multiple languages, and particularly in machine code, there is no better initial discipline to get under your belt than a thorough grounding in Latin.

      I only went as far as O-level with Latin but agree there's a level of rigour in grammar etc in Latin that develops sets of skills that are applicable in a wide range of other subjects.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        That used to be the point of getting a degree. It showed that you had the power to think, reason, present an argument eloquently. The subject matter was there just to keep you interested while you learnt those skills.

        I also understand that up until the late 1700's you had to defend your thesis in Latin. That sounds reasonable to me. None of this namby-pamby "we'll print anyone a certificate on an ink-jet" stuff

        Providing degree's for job-training was what the poly's were for.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Apostrophe Privileges

          are hereby revoked.

        2. mark 63 Silver badge

          "It showed that you had the power to think, reason, present an argument eloquently. "

          " The subject matter was there just to keep you interested while you learnt those skills."

          TRUE but this is whats wrong the system. You should have demonstrated those abilities before Uni to earn the Uni place . THEN at the last stage where the in depth stuff is - Learn something useful and relevent.

          more fool me for thinking engineering would be difficult, useful and appreciated - I could have been navel gazing instead

  23. Mike Ozanne

    "The researchers claimed that their findings challenged the assumption that wage was the most important factor in job satisfaction."

    Well that's pretty much been known since McGregor, Maslow and Lawler. Where did these researchers go to school?

  24. mark 63 Silver badge


    I made the mistake of thinking that it mattered what subject you studied , rather than how high you score in it.

  25. Sooty

    the whole point of exams/degree/qualifications/etc

    Is expressly to differentiate between people's abilities.

    Everyone getting an better education is a noble goal, however everyone getting an A(A*), or everyone getting a degree defeats the entire purpose of the system. Now a degree is fairly worthless*, everyone has one, you have to have something else to stand out as a candidate. I am currently trying to get as many professional qualifications as possible through my employer, but even those are becoming industry standard, instead of something exceptional.

    *that's not to say that not having one won't count against you, but actually having one won't put you ahead of the pack

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: the whole point of exams/degree/qualifications/etc

      Not any more ... that was, I think, one of the big changes from O-levels to GCSE where grades moved from ranking everyone along a normal curve to the system now where a grade is an indication of what proportion of the "key concepts" in the syllabus you were able to regurgitate in the exam. Its even got to the level where my son as part of his GCSE preparation in some subjects was being given lists of words that he should use somewhere in his answers as those were assumed to be listed on a marking scheme as being indications that someone had understood a given concept.

  26. Jim 59

    Student Grant

    In the 80s, student grants were scrapped by the Tories. This was done partly to stop people opting for frivolous degrees while enjoying a (then fully funded) student "lifestyle" (cf Viz). In the 90s. New Labour brought in student loans, again to encourage "serious" degrees and save cash. By "serious", I mean marketable skills.

    After that, Old Labour funnelled everybody in to uni, believing this was the way to social mobility. They did it by gradually ramping down exam standards, to give everyone A levels, while the Unis responded by offering a much wider range of courses, of which many did not imbue any skills of value to the job market.

    The net result is loads of grads unemployed or working at McDonalds while trying to service their student debt. And more social immobility than ever. Unfortunately for the UK, other countries took a different route.

    1. Sandra Greer

      Re: Student Grant

      The US took a similar route, with similar results.

      But there is a hint of the decline of capitalism here, with "growth" in markets believed to be the only way to solvency. However, growth in the population of workers leads to a glut, qualified or not. The result is a poorer populace, thus less demand, thus a shrinking market. Resulting in less demand for workers, etc.

      Any system that requires unbounded growth to work is a Ponzi scheme in sheep's clothing.

      1. mark 63 Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        Re: Ponzi Scheme

        "Any system that requires unbounded growth to work is a Ponzi scheme in sheep's clothing"

        Love it. Never a truer word said and encompasses all that is wrong with the world

    2. mark 63 Silver badge

      Re: Student Grant

      "his was done partly to stop people opting for frivolous degrees"

      They should have only stopped the grant for the frivolous degrees then!

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    ... we just paid a pair of eggheads a small fortune out of public money to produce a report telling us that we've got too many students and most of them can't do anything.

    They could have saved the money and just asked someone in the street.

  28. Crisp

    No degree here

    I've got 99 problems,

    But having a degree ain't one.

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It ain't what you do, its where you do it.

    "It seems safe to say, however, that they're of more use in general than a degree in english, psychology etc."

    I'd say that's pretty debatable. If the Comp Sci and Humanities degrees are done at the same University, you might have a point, but if the former is from the "University of Somewhere In The Midlands no-one wants to Visit" and the latter is from Cambridge, I'll take the English graduate. This is not to denigrate ALL graduates from "lesser colleges" - I went to middling Unis for my BSc and my masters - its just to recognise that the premium recruiters are placing on "elite" universities (redbrick or above) has never been higher, certainly in order to get that first good job.

    The choice of subject is FAR less relevant than the University you go to, and its always been thus. It was when I graduated 20 years ago, and its even more so now. When my kids reach college age there will be a short shortlist of Universities to look at (and they won't just be in the UK) and if they aren't likely to get in, I'll tell them its probably not worth bothering.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: It ain't what you do, its where you do it.

      There is at least a reason behind it.

      If you just want N warm bodies for your management training scheme then requiring a degree means you have fewer CVs to read through and at least a reasonable chance that they can read and write.

      If you want a smaller N, then requiring a degree from a top tier uni means that somebody else (their admissions tutors) has already done the sorting for you. Assuming you want a mixture of clever students, people with the right daddy and good rowers/rugby players - which is what most of British management runs on anyway

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

  30. Cipher

    I have a theory about Libraries. Visit one and you will find 90% of it is filled with magnificently erected steaming piles of academic psycho-babble. Art. Literature. Fiction. All manner of subjects are covered, some of them fine and wonderful. A tiny portion of it is actually useful. But go down the Social Sciences Aisle, and you run into the mangled, tortured syntax of the modern liberal arts professor convinced that only he/she knows the the path to true enlightenment. And they wish to share it with us, the Great Unwashed. Worse than that, they wish to impose their wills upon us...

    To properly construct a title for one of these monstrosities, you must cover all the bases:

    1. In the first half of the title, list at least two unrelated disciplines.

    2. Separate the first half of the title from the second with a colon.

    3. In the second half of the title, mention "A Multi-Disciplinary Approach."

    4. Make sure it is as removed from reality as possible.

    Real Life Examples:

    Criminal Belief Systems: An Integrated-Interactive Theory of Lifestyles

    ISBN: 9780275978204

    Gendering Citizenship in Western Europe: New Challenges for Citizenship Research in a Cross-national Context


    Queer Theory and Communication: From Disciplining Queers to Queering the Disciplines

    ISBN: 9781560232766

    Social Gerontology: A Multidisciplinary Perspective

    ISBN: 9780205336258

    And even a book about how to write such nonsense:

    Exploring Avenues to Interdisciplinary Research: From Cross- to Multi- to Interdisciplinarity

    ISBN: 9781904761686

    And way back in the dimly lit corner of the library, you'll find something else. A row or two of the books that put us atop the food chain. The works that separate us from the ape. The books that built the world we live in.

    This section, often poorly maintained, has tags on the rows:

    Science. Engineering. Physics. Mathematics.

    These books are for the knuckle-dragging brutes who insist on constants. Unshaded truth. Where the color gray exists only as a part of studies of non-spectral colors in the achromatic band of the electromagnetic spectrum. The authors of these books live in a world where 1 + 1 always = 2. Not 2.5. Not Giraffe. They do not consider how the numbers feel. They worry not a whit about the self-esteem of an equation. They seek Truth. It is the work of their lives to provide us with the empirical proof of things.

    Academics, upon their next visit to the library, should at least glance over that way. And thank their Upright-Walking God for having made the men and women who wrote those books...

    1. P. Lee

      >This section, often poorly maintained, has tags on the rows:

      >Science. Engineering. Physics. Mathematics.

      I suspect ignoring/annoying the chemists was a bit of a mistake...

      1. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Chemistry and engineering are all just applied physics - and that's just applied math. :)

  31. Rikkeh

    School requiring degree level content or above...

    Speaking from only my own experience, my school was desperate to get as many of us as possible into university and then into as "good" (defined as highly ranked by the Times) a university as possible. That was the thing that bumped their stats and rankings and encouraged the middle class parents to send their children to the school.

    What degree you actually did when you got to university was by the by as far as they were concerned. If you could go and do Anglo Saxon* at Cambridge with no hope of getting more than a third, it was better in their eyes than going to Bath to do maths with all signs pointing to your doing amazingly well.

    Our interests diverged enormously from the school's and I think that as a result of this a lot of people were pushed into doing degrees that weren't necessarily the best thing for them to do (both for their careers and for their own personal fulfilment- the latter an often-underestimated component of what path you start to forge for yourself upon finishing school).

    I started University nearly 11 years ago, so I'm no spring chicken, but it wasn't too long ago. I imagine that, if anything, things have gotten worse since.

    (Me? I did political science, followed by a law conversion and am now a lawyer- the "irrelevant" degree worked out pretty well for me as the skills learned fed heavily into the postgrad and my day job).

    *Nothing wrong with choosing to study Anglo Saxon, I'm just saying that it's a non-vocational subject and if you get a bad mark in it, you're very unlikely to be able to do anything with it, and it certainly won't help you in life as much as a good result in Bath Math.

    1. Red Bren

      Re: School requiring degree level content or above...

      "I did political science, followed by a law conversion and am now a lawyer..."

      It's a lawyer! Quick!! Let's get it!!!

  32. David Harper 1

    What's even more depressing ...

    ... is that one of Scotland's ancient seats of learning is now handing out Ph.D. degrees in Human Resource Management.

  33. I think so I am?
    IT Angle

    The drop out rate

    Do the stats point at how many people started and how many graduated?

    First hand experience tells me having studied a technical BSc that between 30-50% drop out in the first year or take an easier course. The second years was the same as the 1st in regards to difficulty, followed by the 3rd year which really turns up the heat and a dissertation that killed the last of the dreamers.

    Of 60+ people who started my course 23 graduated with only 6 of us getting a 2.1 or higher.

    The graduation consisted of the IT, Maths and Physics departments as our numbers where so low, compared to Social studies and History that had 200-300 people graduate each.

    Uni for many people is a piss up and excuse not to start work in a call center for another 3 years

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: The drop out rate

      So did the uni close the unproductive physics dept for failing to achieve it's "student output curve goal scenario" or did they just tell them to pass everyone?

  34. 27escape

    devalued education

    Now that the GCSEs and A levels are generally easier to pass, the entry levels to uni are easier to meet, the current trend that all school leavers go to uni, it is no surprise that people getting degrees come out of their education not getting the jobs they have been told they should get with their shiny degrees.

    Surely it should not take some uni research types to work that out.

    Reminds me of the government expecting that most university's would not charge anything near the full allowable price for tuition fees, hahaha, new average course fees £8,500 vs £9,000 full price!

  35. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Dunno, after years in IT I'd say the best degrees (that aren't hard sciences/engineering) would be English and Psychology.

  36. jeremyjh


    "Dunno, after years in IT I'd say the best degrees (that aren't hard sciences/engineering) would be English and Psychology."

    I'm an English graduate working in a technical job involving web development and some general IT (we're not a vast place). My English degree is one of the most highly-regarded going. Of course, it didn't teach me IT skills. That's what I did with my spare time. As a result, I have a more interesting job than many of my coursemates and I take home a little more money too.

    There are core skills that should come with any good degree, around research, deduction and problem-solving. Some humanities graduates have an above-average shot at being articulate and communicative too. Some.

    For some jobs, there will obviously be a preference or a need for formal training, but for a lot of IT-related jobs, someone who has enthusiastically learned the skills independently of any course can easily be as good as someone who's been kipping at the back of a lecture hall on a Comp Sci degree. Particularly if they've been writing code that's actually been used in the wild, worked collaboratively on larger projects, been tinkering with a monstrous home lab, or whatever else is relevant. Obviously, they're going to need to demonstrate competence as well as enthusiasm, but real-world experience often trumps what may have been a broad-and-shallow undergraduate degree with little content directly relevant to the job applied for.

  37. Syntax Error

    Privatised Education

    I think this just blows the whole criteria for charging students fees for degree courses. You have no guarantee of earning more money if you obtain a degree.

    As the privatisation of higher education is likely to continue I suggest that fees for engineering (Computer/mechanical/electrical) are reduced to zero, and subjects like say english, journalism, politics, History of art and other eclectic subjects be doubled. We might start to produce graduates who are useful to the economy rather than useless overpaid media types.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Privatised Education

      No just privatize the loans. Then the banks can take the decision if it's worth the risk of giving you the loan to do media studies in Barnsley or whether they should only fund engineering at Imperial.

      Funnily enough that would see an immediate return to the socialist 80s system of rich Annabel's doing art history at Cambridge and clever kids from comprehensives doing engineering at Imperial - but decided by the market.

      1. Robert Forsyth

        Re: Privatised Education

        No it wouldn't, banks do not have the skills, only those who can guarantee the loan by having rich or influential parents, and perhaps company sponsorship, would go to University. Many parents might re-mortgage to pay for their offspring, but few teenagers would thank you for taking away their minor luxuries so they can go to Uni. and have the guilt placed upon them.

  38. John D Salt

    What utter, utter tosh

    Perhaps if people could get it into their heads that honours degrees are not intended as a method of employment training, we would have fewer dimbulbs fulminating on a topic they clearly haven't understood the elements of. Education is a good thing in itself, and even the dimmest utilitarian can hardly be excused from understanding the point.

    If you believe that the main reason for taking an honours degree course is for paid employment, an MBA is probably as near a thing to education as your shrivelled little soul will ever require.

    All the best,


  39. Dan Paul

    It's not the Degree, it's how you apply it and what knowledge you gain by application

    Way back in the 70's, I went to NCCC in Niagara County for two years, then found a GF, got married and started a family. Then I lost my job working at a General Motors plant and ended up going back to NCCC and finishing my Mechanical technology associates degree.

    It took two more years to find gainful employment as a Sales Engineer for a Control Valve company and was the best move I ever made. The training I got in school only gave me the ability to find what I needed and build on it myself.

    I believe THAT is what's lacking today, the ambition and willingness to learn new capabilities and teachers that want their students to understand how learn on theiir own. Currently, they don't teach that in school, they simply teach how to regurgitate what you have been ""taught". That is not learning.

    Many people should not waste their time going to college as they are not suited for that type of environment and factory work woulld be the best investment for them.

    Unfortunately, the education system is a moneymaking proposition, not charity.

  40. Eric Olson

    Not sure how psychology is taught in the UK...

    But at least where I was 10 years ago, psychology was a statistics-heavy degree. It put you miles ahead most other graduates outside of the math department. Maybe it's the kind of attitude on display in this article that pushed psychology to fiercely legitimize itself through math, but statistical analysis and quantitative analysis are huge parts of the degree in many schools today, which has allowed me a career in IT and (currently) software business analysis (with no degree-based IT experience or training).

    More broadly, t I think this is again a problem with the idea that people who are in school now should be literally placing bets on the usefulness of a specific degree 10, 15, 30 years from now. In 2000, the big degrees were in finance and pre-law, both of which now are suffering from massive over-supply issues. Right now it is Comp Sci and Engineering, two very specific skill-sets that are already showing signs of over-supply, at least at the entry-level. While "doing what feels good" might not be the best strategy, it seems those of my cohort who came out of college with no specific job or field in mind are doing the best and are the most satisfied with our jobs... excluding the teachers.

    But that's my two cents.

    1. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

      @Eric Olson

      I could not believe how many attempts at passing the stats the psychology students were allowed before they failed at the university I was at. IIRC, they had at least six chances, and I only had two at the maths to support my computing/electronics course. And their stats were really simple! I did the same at Advanced A-Level maths.

      1. Eric Olson

        Re: @Eric Olson

        I'm stateside, so our system is a bit different. For one, there were no qualifying assessments made before graduation. It was either successful completion of the classes required or not. Arguments about the merits and issues with the two educational systems aside, anecdotal evidence suggests that my education in data analysis exceeds the education my younger brother received when he obtained his computer and electrical engineering degrees. However, his knowledge of IEEE standards and the National Electric Code far outpace my own. As does his salary.

  41. 100113.1537

    Missing the critical point... the article that the people with the fulfilling jobs all had 5-15 years of work experience. That is what gets you somewhere - the real-world experience AFTER you have obtained your degree. What we have is unrealistic expectations that you can just get your 'dream job" using your degree skills as soon as you graduate - this is the bollocks that needs to be changed in order to have people understand what they will get back from their degree.

    Further, the idea that degrees are job training is something which has only recently arisen. Degrees are not "hard science vs soft arts" but vocational vs non-vocational. Vocational degrees used to be just things like medicine, vet, engineering and pretty much all of the rest was non-vocational - including so-called "hard" sciences such as chemistry and physiscs. People did not choose a career, but chose a subject of study and through that study gained a education in how to learn that helped them succeed in their next job. Professional jobs, such as law and accountancy, were made filled by graduates with any degree and trained them on the job. I had many friends who went through this route after their genetics or biochemistry degrees and said that their analytical skills were highly prized. At the same time, administrative jobs were filled by arts graduates who had learned critical skills through their study of medieval art history - and were probably much better because of it.

    Except for the vocational degrees mentioned earlier - degrees are not about subject matter but about learning critical and analytical skills. What has changed in the recent expansion of tertiary education is the elevation of non-degree vocational course to a degree-level. Thus we have degree studies in everything from nursing (marginally relevant as nurses are now expected to do a lot more than just "nurse") to Sports Center Management (which is surely something that does not need a degree course of its own). Thus, we are enticing applicants to "train" for a specific job, and then finding out that to do that job requires a lot more than the degree (even if the demand for job still exists). Thus there is disatisfaction.

    Since a return to non-vocational degrees is unlikely, what needs to change is the expectation that degree = instant job in field of study.

  42. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What's in a degree?

    I will add a twopence worth of a personal opinion, in the belief that some advanced degrees (physics, engineering, astrophysics), a postdoctoral stint, many years working in industry, and teaching at a couple of universities (including CS/OS) entitle me to have one.

    I am saddened that so many discussions of the value of a university education - or various types thereof - focus on specific skills acquired by the time of graduation and their likely or proven usefulness along the chosen career path. Skills are important, but a university is not a vocational school. The most important skill one should take out of university is the skill of learning new stuff. You can acquire this skill whether you study physics, medieval history, or English literature. Yes, in some fields your chances of "learning to learn" are lower (looking at "social science" and "political science" here) than in some other fields that provide you with a clear, even if often not explicitly or rigidly formalized, methodology (empirical sciences - this is why they are "hard": facts rule over conjectures and opinions and there are refutability/reproduceability criteria, etc.). But this is a cultural/historical/traditional bias rather than an intrinsic limitation. Actually, maybe this is a reasonable foundation for preferring an Oxford English literature (or sociology!) graduate to a CS one from an undistinguished school: the chances that you learned well how to push the envelope reading English at Oxford may be higher than reaching the same level in a CS program elsewhere.

    How well you learned to learn is also a matter of degrees. After getting your BA/BSc you will likely still need guidance when you approach new fields. After getting a PhD you are supposed to have proven experience in taking an underexplored subfield and contributing significantly to it all on your own.

    Can you "learn to learn" outside of a university? No doubt, and that includes the post-PhD level. But a university is supposed to provide you with an environment where you can acquire the skill efficiently and methodically - and to grade you, which is useful on many levels.

    Now, what's you job and who is your employer? Does he/she value ready specific skills or ability to learn new stuff and new skills and make your own contribution? Oh, and are you sure you will be in the same field in 5/10/15 years? IMHO, it pays to study what you like rather than choose a subject based on the perceived usefulness of specific skills.

  43. jcuk
    Thumb Up

    Degree = Taken Seriously?

    I found that I'd only be taken seriously if I had a degree... It was a fun filled festival of music, beer and spending around 50% of my time actually in class and the rest in my bed, all paid for by our wonderful government. Cheers - here's my tax return and student loan payment.

    I learned some, but really it was just a case of jumping through the academic hoops so that I could get an honours badge at the end. Went and got a decent grad job, never looked back.

    You hear day in day out of punters with a degree flipping some horsemeat in a 'those with hangovers apply here' restaurant. But is that their fault? Probably. *unintended arrogance here*

    You just don't get offered a great job because you have a bit of paper saying your qualified (exemption applies for plumbers).

    The small percentage who actually make it really do work hard to get there, they care about the profession, will go anywhere, can do anything and love every minute of it.

  44. Serge 2

    A proper engineer can...

    Do almost any other job and can do it well. However its not so easy vise versa if at all possible. A solid science or a hard engineering degree teaches you set of invaluable skills that is no match to any other subject. Engineer can be a lawyer, politician, financier, entrepreneur etc. No business degree graduate can do a control or electronic engineer job. So yeah. I agree that social sciences are a breeding ground for environment pseudo scientists and pseudo researchers. When it comes to politics, unless you have a solid engineering or a hard science degree, the door for you should be well shut. Best you can be is a secretary. Look at what bunch of incapable lawyers that our government is done to this country. Stop this niceness with socially conscience sugar coating of peoples feelings.

    Bring on the downvotes!

  45. Stevie


    teh inglish arent needed i dont no why peepl even bother with it nobody cares anyway about punctuashun or othre shite lik that peepl shud just lern computers stuff lik me

  46. Bruce Ordway

    So what did we expect?

    Education has become a big business in the US and it generates a flood of degrees every spring. The percentage of good jobs will always be low.

  47. ecofeco Silver badge

    So what else is new?

    This has been the very same situation during and after every recession for the last, oh, 35 years that I can remember.

    The issue isn't WHAT type of degree, but WHERE are the damn jobs?

  48. E 2

    Q: What do you say to a B.A.?

    A: I'll have fries with that.

    Q: What do you say to an M.A.?

    A: Fill it up with unleaded.

    Q: What do you say to a B.Com.?

    A: Put me on the no-call list.

  49. a pressbutton

    Stop working over last century's arguments

    When I got my degree in the 80s I got all my tuition fees paid and a nice grant.

    It would have been quite reasonable for the rest of society (you) to have a say over the course I chose, but you were polite enough not to.

    Today students will pay tuition fees and their own expenses.

    If they are not smart enough to understand that a degree in media studies probably wont get them a nice job at the end, they probably are not smart enough to graduate.

    Unlike me when I got my A levels, most of todays 18-19 year olds will have few illusions about the course they choose and the immediate prospects on graduation.

    Best of luck to them.

    1. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: Stop working over last century's arguments

      "When I got my degree in the 80s I got all my tuition fees paid and a nice grant."

      Depends in which country you lived. When I started my degree in the 80s, tuition fees were affordable but the student grant was less than half of the dole. 75% of the engineering class I was in dropped out before the first year was half finished and I took a job at the end of that year to make ends meet - resulting in it taking 7 years to actually finish the thing.

      Student loans didn't exist then - and when they did start, fees were based on a percentage of actual course costs. Students predictably chose the lowest cost options (Business studies, Law and economics), resulting in a deficit of hard science grads. Those who did choose those options were carrying 50-100k debts to service. Medical grads carried debts significantly higher. In the meantime Universities became beholden to their money-earners (the previously mentioned degrees had huge profit margins) and turned aawy form teaching hard sciences, making the shortage of graduates in those areas even more of a problem.

      Couple that with polytechnics moving away from vocational training and effectively giving away degrees in origami, the end result was that most degrees are effectively worthless unless accompanied by transcripts - and I've seen plenty of forged ones.

      The end result is that HR minions focus on degrees because that's how they got theirs, while those with real world experience look more closely at employment history and experience - plus taking glowing references with a dose of salt (they're often supplied as a way of getting rid of someone incompetent).

  50. J.G.Harston Silver badge

    "Over-qualified grads are being forced into unsatisfying jobs which don't suit their skills"

    I actually read that as graduates coming out of university with a bit of paper, and going into the graduate professional job the bit of paper has theoretically qualified them for, and discovering they weren't actually sufficiently skilled to actually do the job.

    Well, that's been my experience of recent fresh-faced new intakes into software engineering positions.

  51. Richard Altmann


    " when a degree was a rare badge of distinction, rather than something which fell out of your cornflakes packet following three years of alcohol-fuelled fornication."

    may i use it?

  52. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    I spent 12 years in the military, instead of going to school. My parents paid to put my sister through school, but I didn't want them to spend the money on me. She has gone from 1 low paying job to another since graduation, and I have had 2 good paying jobs since I left the military. I started out on mainframes as a computer operator, and now I am a PACS administrator in healthcare.

    Experience counts, but if you are young, getting your foot in the door to get experience is the hardest part.

    1. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: Military

      "Experience counts, but if you are young, getting your foot in the door to get experience is the hardest part"

      Being keen and clearly willing to learn is a big plus.

      Anyone who comes through the door feeling they're entitled to a job doesn't last long in the real world. Asking real-world technical questions is a good way of weeding out the bluffers. (We've had people get quite offended that we expect them to understand how TCP/IP or DNS works when they're applying for positions which need good knowledge of such things)

  53. ToggleMaudlin

    In my experience - admittedly perhaps less impressive than some previous comment authors - a good employer doesn't necessarily care where you got the skills you have; if you can show that you can do the job, deliver on time, adhere to brief and don't complain when it comes to the crunch then you're on board.

  54. The Alpha Klutz

    uni not necessary

    if you're middle class and you like alcohol and your parents are rich, of course you would go to uni.

    if like me your parents have no money you are statistically far less likely to see the benefit of taking out a government loan just to party with middle class gap-yah twats. at least, thats the way i saw it. so i didnt go.

    Instead I got a job and learned skills. Seems kinda crazy that someone would do that, but I did, and it worked for me.

    Learning to program was a long term ambition of mine (since I was 10) but I never truly "got it" until my first job allowed me to understand WHY people would actually sit around and write code. Its not for fun, its for money. And that puts a very different set of constraints on you than if you were just dicking around at uni.

    The real world is different, and its getting more different every day. Back in uni-gapyah-land, the same lecturers are giving the same lectures they gave in the 70s and, its tedious, frankly.

    They will protest purely to justify their own high salaries and cushy jobs.

  55. FrankAlphaXII

    You don't ALWAYS need a degree to get that "great job"

    Love the footnote. I'm sure editors at any specialist newspaper or website say the same thing about their overriding topic to appease their unthinking simpleton readership which invested nearly the same amount as buying a decent house in an education that prepares one for nothing in the real world much less will only return on investment in around 20% of the cases, generally a break even. Ive watched my father with two degrees struggle to get a job in any industry, the ones he studied for are out of the question at this point. Its sad when a psych honors graduate with a abnormal psych minor and a business degree on top of it as well is looking to work at a lumber yard. So I guess I've had little faith in ivory tower academia since I was a child. As well as watching college dropouts or people who never attended do absolutely crazy things in technology, (like them or not, Apple or Microsoft's early days) while their stuffed suit degreed colleagues tend to not do much but destroy (HP, I'm looking at you, Larry Ellison, etc)

    I can only speak from my own life experience and Its pretty sad that when I was 21 I got paid to do what other people in my high school graduating class were paying boatloads of money to read about. All the while I was doing this with only a High School diploma. Hell, I STILL make more than these people with only an Associate's Degree that I didn't pay for from the number 1 two-year school in North America and my experience on top of it which in all honesty has always made me more money and seniority than having a fancy piece of paper with my name on it.

    So really, YMMV. And I didn't set out to try to do this, ironically I enlisted only for the Montgomery GI Bill so I could finish my bachelor's without incurring much (if any) debt. The Air Force was the first choice as they have a College (not the Academy, the Air Force actually runs an accredited school inside their Air Education and Training Command), but I wound up Regular Army and then Army Reserve after realizing I couldn't keep up with the kids anymore and the reserve is geared more towards older servicemembers. Really, there's nothing quite like a two pack a day smoker at the ripe old age of 18 lapping you on the track and beating your time by almost 3 minutes while not even breaking a sweat, to make you feel ancient at just 31.

    The Army was just the easiest to get into with a PDQ from another branch (I was PDQed, or Permanently Disqualified, from the US Air Force for being underweight, and I had been pretty much locked into Aircrew positions, you'd figure they'd want lighter people for anything in the Air, maybe 9/11/Operation Enduring Carnage, erm, Freedom, and the game in Iraq changed all that, but during peacetime it was a big pain in the ass).

    Getting ahead without being Superman just sort of happened by keeping my eyes and ears open, exploiting benefits as well as opportunities that others just didn't do even though they knew about them, and taking risks as they presented themselves. I don't advocate the Military for people like me really, it took alot of growing up for me and alot of mistakes to really succeed here, but there are plenty of ways to prove yourself and your skills without a degree to get to that pie-in-the-sky job that academia endlessly harps about, as in the title of this very article, that when most academics look down their collective nose at those who refuse to play their shitty little expensive game with barely any return on investment in money or time, it really just makes me laugh because they really can't see the forest for the trees, no matter what their little pieces of paper or titles might say.

    TL:DR, there are other ways to get ahead in life and learn advanced skills for your career than investing much more than most people can ever afford in higher education, for something theoretical, in other words you can do something hands-on and learn the practical use of whatever and THEN go to school if you need to, or want to.

  56. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @ A proper engineer can...

    Utter and total tosh (bullocks & other comments...)

    "Proper Engineers" (sic) are a tiny, miniscule minority out of a sea of vast mediocrity.

    Most engineers are incapable of being creative since that is drilled out of their minds by profs bolstering their egos. Here in another colony (Canada), engineers pretend to know law, are generally incompetent people managers yet are given to believe that they can walk on water because of their iron ring.

    A bit more humility on the part of the engineering types , as well as an appreciation for real teamwork (as opposed to the "I know it all " attitude) would be a welcome change.

    Alas, not to be...........

  57. Chris Johnson 1

    A blast from the past

    Way back in the 70's the Civil Service made a study of the value of degrees for those working with IT. They found that, with one exception, holders of degrees performed above average. The exception was a degree in Computer Science!

  58. Polyphonic

    Degrees of torture

    I have an Open University degree (maths and computer science and worked in IT (and still do) whilst I studied. But my children's experiences are:

    Number 1 son, civil engineering degree, now works in IT change management

    Number 2 son, physics degree and works in Nuclear engineering

    Daughter, turned down a place on a media and music management degree course, worked her way up from call handler to area manager in the same firm and on the way up has managed graduates from the course she turned down who are now call handlers.

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