According to UK university research, the academic year starting 2016 saw an increase of 2,316,476 students studying in higher education. This illustrates changing attitudes and needs towards higher education. What was somewhat of a niche market in the past, higher education has become much more popular, with the numbers of undergraduates and postgraduates climbing rapidly. There is so much that people can study now and that grows all the time. Whether a student is just looking for an undergraduate degree in English or they want to go for a Master’s in biomedical sciences, there is an open space for them to look at all the possibilities.
As a result, the number of potential candidates entering the UK’s working world is skyrocketing year on year. Therefore, graduate roles that many students are applying to following the completion of their course, either immediately or several years later, are often becoming oversubscribed. With competition for these jobs heating up, many students are instead opting to remain in higher education prior to the completion of their undergraduate degree by signing onto a master’s course.
Considering this significant increase, here we’ll explore why it is that students are pursuing postgraduate study and how it effects their future.
Knowledge is power
Whilst having all of your diploma frames hanging in pride of place on the wall is nice, it shouldn’t be the only reason you go on to study in higher education. Knowledge can open many doors for you, giving you more opportunities in the future. This is useful if you haven’t decided on what you want to do yet, so having as many doors open as possible keeps your career path clear.
Postgraduate study is often a reasonable decision for those who haven’t yet decided on their future career. Take for example a recent graduate of business management. Due to the wide scope which this course covers at undergraduate level, the number of career routes they could go down is incredibly high. Choose a more concentrated postgraduate course, however, and one can make themselves more suitable to a distinctive role.
Business with supply chain management gives students an alternative approach when pursuing a career. Not only that, but postgraduate study built upon an undergraduate degree allows for skill and knowledge development. During A-Levels, most of your education is heavily supervised and revised at each hurdle. As you progress through your academic studies at university, the crutch that was once there is slowly removed before you reach your final year.
When students work on their final year research project completely independently, this allows them to demonstrate their ability and what they have learnt throughout their academic career. When progressing to postgraduate study, there is much more freedom, much like in a professional environment.
It is extremely beneficial to undertake postgraduate study. Move onto a career following the completion of your course and employers will instantly recognise your commitment in terms of your own personal progression. Despite the fact that you won’t be able to walk straight into any job, interviewers will appreciate the dedication you have placed into completing an initial degree and then a supplementary one.
When you land a job, the transferable skills developed at postgraduate level will stand you above those who stopped at undergraduate level. You will likely be awarded more responsibilities. Furthermore, career progression will have more chance of being unlocked thanks to your enhanced knowledge.
A reason can be a simple as knowing you aren’t finished with education and want to continue being a student. If this is the case, postgraduate study is undoubtedly the next step.
Investing in your future
Research by the Higher Education Academy revealed the top reasons why students undertake postgraduate study: to progress within a current job (58%) to improve employment prospects (54%) and to enter a certain role (21%). Similarly, 12% more postgraduates were in a high skilled job than those in the same position, but, with only an undergraduate degree. Those under 30 who had successfully completed a master’s degree earned approximately 3,500 extra a year, while those in the ‘working age’ bracket, laid claim to an additional 6,000 per annum.
But which course should you do?
There is a lot of encouragement to study STEM subjects – science, technology, engineering, and mathematics – and for good reason. Monster, who specialise in professional development, analysed the various master’s degrees on offer, and which of these courses’ salaries related to the highest earners. It can be difficult for future students to decide what they want to specifically do at university, sometimes there are too many choices and the right one has not become apparent just yet. They may speak to education counselors as well as try going to a psychic (no that’s not a joke), some people can find solace in speaking to psychics and think that online tarot can provide answers to their education woes. In the end, it is up to them and what they see as a future career.
The top 10 paying salaries are closely linked to postgraduate study into STEM, finance, healthcare, and telecommunications. Nurse Anesthesia however is the most highly paid on their list. The Complete University Guide on the other hand has postgraduates of Business & Administrative Studies as the highest earners, with an average salary of 46,966.
Make your time count
It doesn’t matter whether you’re finishing your undergraduate studies, have just begun a career and are thinking of the next step, or are in the midst of a career and have a family, this is your time. Use it wisely – develop your knowledge, pursue your interests, build your skills and career, and join a talented, global learning community filled with ambitious, inquisitive people – just like you.
Whatever you decide, make sure you research the postgraduate courses which interest you the most or what would be the most beneficial to helping you succeed in the future.