A recent study has revealed that over 20 per cent of university graduates do not believe their university degree was “worth it.”
The study, conducted by the National Centre for Lifecourse Research, interviewed 6000 former New Zealand university students who had graduated in 2011, with results indicating that to some a tertiary degree is not the “golden ticket” to employment that it once was.
34 per cent of those surveyed had dealt with unemployment, with the average length of unemployment being six months.
The study looked at the participants’ lives across two-and-a-half years since their graduation, with questions covering employment, health, and social life.
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While participants with degrees had satisfactory employment rates, there was an alarming number of recent graduates who felt negatively about their tertiary degrees.
Roughly two-thirds of participants in the study were employed in their field of study and on average, two years after graduating, participants were earning $40,000–$50,000 per annum—a figure on par with the national median income.
Executive Director of Universities New Zealand Chris Whelan said that it is widely thought to be the most comprehensive study to date of graduate outcomes around the world.
“This study is important because it helps us to understand the impact of a university education by tracking and exploring how our graduates fare. Not only does it look at their careers and employment, which are important measures of success, but it also takes a more holistic look at their lifestyle, development, health, and well-being.”
“Universities recognised the need for government, students, and their families to have good evidence about the benefits of a university education. The results are also important to universities as they continually adjust their qualifications to meet the needs of students and employers.”
“The data shows that graduates are good citizens who make a tangible contribution to New Zealand economically… these new results confirm that a degree doesn’t just benefit the individual. It also benefits their community and the country,” said Whelan.
Although the study revealed a large rate of graduate job satisfaction, over one-fifth of participants didn’t feel satisfied, which calls into question the perception of a university degree impressed upon high school leavers by educational institutions.
When speaking on the value of a degree, VUWSA President Jonathan Gee said “it depends on the student as to whether a university education is right for them. It’s important that students get quality career advice at high school.”
“It’s equally important that universities continually adapt to an evolving marketplace, which favours ‘softer’ skills like work ethic and perseverance, as well as graduates who have some form of practical experience from their degrees,” he added.
Most graduates had a loan between $10,000–$15,000, and 84 per cent of those surveyed indicated their likeliness to participate in national elections.