If we are going to ask students to pay tens of thousands of pounds for a degree then we need to have a proper debate about whether that degree is actually worth the investment. I loved my degree but was it worth £18,000?
On leaving Uni and spending my first year after graduating being rejected from every job I applied for – I realised that 3 years of study had in no way prepared me for the world of work. I had nothing that employers wanted in a potential recruit.
Graduates see unpaid internships as the only avenue into paid work and increasingly, employers see unpaid internships as the solution to staffing problems. If you can’t get a decent job with your degree how exactly can it pay itself back?
Clearly, a degree does not guarantee a high salary and success – I am sure many of your friends are testament to this. But then, back in the day going to university wasn’t a cold-hard economic decision.
Until we address the problem of graduate unemployment and the uncertainty in the job market, we cannot expect prospective students to saddle themselves with debts the size of mortgages.
When the metropolitan police force wants wannabee officers to work for free for 12 months before applying to entry level positions; when large numbers of graduate schemes have been axed; when a third of call centre workers are now graduates, you’ve got to wonder how reasonable it is to ratchet up fees for university students without even discussing how to make university a better investment.
For many graduate schemes a degree is a pre-requisite – but bar a piece of paper saying ‘2-1’ or ‘first’ how else has a degree prepared you for writing job applications?
Unpaid internships are already the preserve of those who can afford to work for free, live in London or have the right connections. Soon university won’t be that much different.