The number of students graduating with a first-class degree has doubled in the last 10 years, with one in six now gaining top honours. But is a good degree good enough when it comes to getting a graduate job?
New figures reveal that a record 61,000 graduates left university with a first last summer, with the numbers soaring in the past five years.
The Association of Graduate Recruiters (AGR) has branded the degree classification system as ‘barely fit for purpose’ and is calling for more universities to give graduates a report listing out their transferable skills, extra-curricular activities and work experience placements.
2:1, 2:2 – what’s in a number anyway?
As a recent graduate myself, I know just how much pressure there is to leave uni with a top degree under your belt. And this isn’t so that you’re a candidate for some of the best grad jobs around – it’s so you meet the criteria to apply for nearly any grad job. For the majority of the graduate-level roles I came across when doing the arduous job applications, a 2:1 was required ‘as a minimum’.
The feeling among my peer group at university was that if you didn’t graduate with at least a 2:1, your degree wasn’t worth it. Plus, first-year students told Which? University that the degree class awarded to previous grads is one of the top five things they wished they’d looked into.
Especially given the extent of uni fees now, it seems there’s more pressure than ever to make sure that university is worth it.
Leaving uni with more than just a degree
According to AGR chief executive Carl Gilleard, employers are increasingly using the degree classification system as ‘an automatic cut-off point’, rather than as an effective recruitment tool.
With a higher number of candidates leaving uni with at least a 2:1, you’d hope that all the extra stuff you’ve done beyond your academics could help mark you out. To that effect, Higher Education Achievement Reports will be issued to graduates from around 90 universities. These will help them showcase all the skills they’ve picked up during their degree to employers, rather than just their qualification.
The reports will include more info on academic achievements such as modules studied, individual exam results, details of extra-curricular activities, volunteering and work experience.
In our graduate survey last year, more than half told us they felt their class of degree helped their employment prospects. However, a third said they wished they had been more involved in extra-curricular activities and networking in order to help secure a graduate job.
Did your degree help you get to where you are today? Do you think the Higher Education Achievement Report would have been useful in getting you into the world of work?