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Did you go to uni to improve your chances of employment?

University graduates

What were your reasons for attending uni – or choosing not to go as the case may be? Our latest research shows that university applicants are overwhelmingly driven by graduate employment prospects.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, improving employment prospects and the pursuit of a vocation were cited by the majority of applicants as their main reason for going to university – an impressive 63% answered this way in our latest university survey.

Just 22% said they went to learn more about their chosen subject or to stretch themselves intellectually. And just 1% said they went to uni to have their independence and move away from home with less than 1% saying they went for a good social life.

For me personally, I’d never considered any option but going to university – it was the natural progression and my favourite subject (English) also happened to be well respected by employers.

That said, I had to supplement my degree with work experience to make sure I had the more commercial skills I needed to get a job at the end of it.

Increase my chances of getting a job

I spoke to some of the Which? graduates to find out their motivations for going to university. Alex Toplis, who currently works in our editorial team, told us:

‘For me, the strongest reason for going to uni was purely to increase my chances of getting a job. However, while the subject I chose (Human Geography) was interesting to me, it wasn’t necessarily the best one to lead me to a job straight after uni.’

And Ross Denton, who is working in our legal team, told me:

‘My reasons for going to University were simple: I loved my subject (history) at school, and was told that going to University was vital to getting a good job. That and like every teenager I wanted independence from my family!’

Did you go to university to improve your employment opportunities? Did you choose a vocational route to get straight into work? And how do you think the trend in going to university will continue as students weigh up the significant financial investment they (and parents) make in their education?


I never went to uni or even college. I was bullied so bad at school I ended up leaving fully aged 15 (No GCSE’s, nothing at all).

Luckily Tesco took a chance on me, I was then fast tracked to a assistant manager when I was 18, but left and move to Sainsburys where I was a night manager for a few years.

Then a few years ago I left the retail world and went self-employed. Now I run a few of my own websites, I work as a market researcher, mystery shopping, ITVYorkshire and my local BBC Radio station talking about Money Saving, energy companies etc.

While I admit I have been lucky. The education system is not for everyone and in a strange way I am thankful to the bullies for getting me out of school at a young age. While I am not the best at Maths & English I enjoy my working life and don’t have a boring 9-5 job, or worse a string of student debts round my neck.

You are required to go to uni if you want to
seek entry to the vocational occupations
like law, medicine, dentistry and others.

Irrespective of job prospects, have always
thought such education is a good investment
provided IRrelevant subjects are not studied
… for another, a sound well-rounded higher
education is an asset… having 3 to 5 yrs in studious
study for an undergraduate degree counts
for something if assist clarity in thinking… AND of course
with a good degree that’s quite achievable.

As the manager of an R&D department I was often involved in the ‘milk run’ recruitment process looking for new graduate employees. Like most organisations, there were some Universities that we simply did not bother with because they had poor reputations for the quality of their graduates. So the first lesson is: if you do go to University, pick one that has a good reputation amongst employers. It is often better to choose a vocational route, such as an apprenticeship, than waste time and money getting a degree that employers do not regard as being valuable.

The second lesson is that degrees do not always guarantee a job. What they do help with is getting an invitation to an interview. It is likely that there will be more candidates invited to the interview than there are positions available – and they will all have similar paper qualifications. At the interview the qualities being sought are mostly related to the individuals’ personal characteristics and attitudes – such things as initiative and self motivation count for a lot.