Postgrad: Higher Pay or just Higher Debts?
You’ve been a student for three or four years and now it’s time to get a job. Or is it?
Thousands of students go back into studying for a postgraduate qualification – but will it land you a better job? Real World investigates.
study – is it worth it?
What looks like a graduate, sounds like a graduate, but is twice as likely to find a job? The answer, a postgraduate qualification, is a great way to build on existing skills and make employers take notice. But with some courses costing more than £20,000, is it worth the money? There are three things postgraduates have to shell out for: tuition, living costs and all those little extras like books and pens. For most people who have been through university, this will all sound familiar. The difference this time round is that it’s a lot harder to get a student loan to pay for it.
study – is it worth it?
Real World does the maths
According to one estimate, the cost for food, drink and rent for an academic year are £7,500 and as much as £9,500 in London. Add to that an average tuition fee payout of £3,200 a year, which can rise to a pocket-burning £25,000 for some MBAs. Then there are those extra costs to factor in. A survey comparing the costs of randomly selected books from the reading lists of courses at five different universities found that the average cost of a recommended book was £28.99. On the other side of the scales, employers sit up and take notice of postgraduate qualifications. The latest figures by the higher education Careers Services unit showed that postgraduates enjoyed unemployment
of only 4.1% whilst 7.9% of graduates were without a job. The benefits aren’t only a better
chance of getting work, postgraduates can expect to earn more too. Up to 20% more than an undergraduate for women,and 34% more for men. Although more than a tenth of full time Masters students are in minimum wage jobs.
How does it all stack up?
So, do the job benefits of postgraduate study make all those extra pennies spent
worthwhile? The answer is probably not. Postgraduate unemployment is going up and employers are increasingly questioning what a degree on its own means. What they are looking for are the experiences that extra time in education can bring. Shaun May, a graduate about to start his PhD, said: "To do the thesis that I wanted to do with the supervisor I wanted, that was the main thing." And when asked about the financial implications, he said: "It’s a secondary concern." Developing contacts in an industry, doing some work experience and exploring interests aren’t just things employers’ value,they’re also the best reasons to return to studying.