Next week I will be attending graduation ceremonies, one for a friend as a guest and the other in my capacity as University staff (I get to sit at the front with the lecturers, Drs and Profs and feel like a total fraud) it’s great to see students I have worked with graduating and I’m happy to have heard that a lot of them already have roles secured with companies such as PWC and Deloitte.
Earlier today, I listened to the BBC radio Solent clip of our latest Student’s Union President (2hrs 15mins in) in which they discussed the fact that there will be 360,000 students graduating this summer. It was interesting to hear the presenter suggest that we have a seemingly “top heavy” University system, in which all these students will graduate but there won’t be the “high level” jobs for them. David (new SUSU pres) made a good point that these students aren’t just in need of jobs but they are also job creators. He also raised the question of whether the point of uni is to get someone trained up for a job, which arguably- it’s not.
I think the assumption the presenter seemed to make of each grad fitting a “high level” job is silly and is part of the reason some grads can end up disillusioned and depressed if they some how aren’t “captains of industry” straight out of uni.
University can make you feel as though you can do anything (if you take up the opportunities) but it also fills people with a sense of entitlement, “well I have a degree, give me a job!” When in fact there is still much ladder climbing for the majority of them to do before they get their dream role (unless of course they enter a grad scheme but even then that’s entry level!)
I think a delicate balance of giving students opportunities to shine in terms of employability skills at university and management of expectations for after graduation would help with some people’s feelings of failure. I’m glad I tuned in for this discussion although it’s not a new issue as it seems to be bought up every year.
Increasing student numbers will only add to this “problem” but I think students and graduates should take some ownership over it by as students being proactive and organised in their quest for work experience and jobs and by taking part in outreach activities to tell prospective students how to be realistic with their options after School or College. As Alumni we should be offering more to our institutions in terms of coming back to the uni and talking to the students to give students an insight into the realities of the working world. If there are any graduates out there who would like me to write about them to pass on their pearls of wisdom do get in contact and I’ll add you to my list of graduate profiles.
If anyone is currently debating further study (PG degree) instead of work, this article was shared by The Guardian today about people wanting to change discipline focus by taking a post graduate degree that doesn’t link with their UG degree. Something to think about if you’re weighing up your post graduation options.