How non-degrees can destroy your career
“The ‘Mickey Mouse’ Degrees: Are They Ruining Your Career Prospects?”
As universities continue to diversify their course offerings, we’ve seen some rather unusual subjects popping up on the academic radar, including modules on Harry Styles and entire courses on bakery and patisserie technology. These quirky programs, often labeled as “Mickey Mouse degrees,” are raising eyebrows once more. However, the real concern extends beyond these novelty courses. The average university graduate in 2023 is saddled with £45,000 in debt, with the burden only starting to lift once their income surpasses £27,295. Even high earners might find themselves repaying university debt well into middle age, particularly if they’re among the first to benefit from the government’s new “Plan 5” loans, triggering repayments at an income threshold of £25,000.
But the real question is: Are these degrees worth the financial sacrifice? A recent study conducted by job website Adzuna has shed light on the degrees that offer the worst value for money in 2023. The findings are particularly troubling for graduates, as they reveal that the value of a degree is being eroded by inflation. In this blog post, we’ll explore the degrees that might be damaging your career prospects and what this means for recent graduates.
The Worst Value for Money Degrees
Adzuna’s research delved into the career trajectories and expected earnings of graduates from various fields five years into their careers. The results exposed ten degrees that provide the worst value for money, with the lowest-ranking course yielding an average salary of just £24,242 five years after graduation. Despite soaring inflation and strong wage growth, advertised salaries have remained stagnant, further compounding the issue.
Photography degrees topped the list, with graduates earning an average salary of £24,242 five years post-graduation. Following closely behind were translation (£24,581), criminology (£24,637), and fine art (£25,015). Among these, only fine art graduates could anticipate a slight increase in average salaries from the previous year, with a meager £16 bump.
The Unexpected Success Story
However, there are exceptions to this bleak trend. Take Ben Galyas, for instance, who pursued a fine arts degree at Chelsea College of Arts, a constituent of UAL. Despite studying fine arts, he now earns over £100,000 a year plus bonuses in a sales role connecting media and tech businesses. Galyas attributes his success to his ability to articulate complex and abstract concepts, skills he honed during his fine arts education. He explains that fine art degrees are discourse-led, involve minimal dictatorial teaching, and have no exams – qualities that undoubtedly aid in a sales job.
Notably, Galyas hasn’t completely abandoned his artistic pursuits. He maintains a studio practice, putting on two shows this year alone. This dedication and self-motivation are essential for art graduates who often find themselves with limited corporate job prospects and a competitive arts job market.
The Wider Picture
Adzuna’s research paints a grim picture for university graduates, revealing that 40% of university degrees fail to lead to an average salary above £30,000 within five years – a figure that remains unchanged from the previous year. Shockingly, out of 83 degrees analyzed, 13 didn’t even surpass the student loan repayment threshold within that same period.
Liz Emreson from the Intergenerational Foundation, a think tank, believes that these stagnant graduate salaries could prompt young jobseekers to seriously consider apprenticeships as an alternative path. She remarks, “These figures paint a depressing picture for young graduates, who were told that going to higher education and taking on debt would bring them a graduate premium. Now it seems that graduates get to keep the debt but not the pay premium promised.”
In the ever-evolving landscape of higher education, the debate surrounding the value of certain degrees persists. As students and their families weigh the potential career prospects against the financial costs of pursuing higher education, it’s essential to stay informed about the realities of the job market. While some individuals like Ben Galyas have found unconventional success with “Mickey Mouse degrees,” the broader trends suggest that graduates may need to explore alternative paths to secure their financial future. The days of pursuing a degree for the sake of it may no longer be a viable option for many.