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Having already borrowed up to £27,000 in course fees alone to get their first degree, there is a risk that many of the UK’s most talented students will walk away from a postgraduate education. But with students facing a highly competitive jobs market and a poor economic outlook both this year and next, a postgraduate qualification is more likely than ever to give students the edge.
Middlesex University's Hendon Campus
Postgraduate degrees have traditionally been seen as an opportunity for students to study their subject in greater depth, boost future income and help graduates standout in an increasingly competitive jobs market. However, while the number of postgraduate degree students in the UK has gone up in recent years, most of the increase has come from overseas students.
Research from the Higher Education Policy Institute released in 2010 indicates that UK postgraduates rose by just three per cent between 2003 and 2008 while non-EU student’s postgraduates was up more than 40 per cent. These figures prompted Universities UK to warn that there may not be enough UK-domiciled postgrads for universities to teach in the future.
With postgraduate course fees rising sharply in recent year’s choosing the right course, can be tricky. Even if a student knows what subject they want to study they will be looking to universities to justify the increased fees by tailoring their courses to meet individual student needs. One way in which universities are achieving this is by offering students subtle differences in how they teach their subjects. Put simply, universities are adding value to their courses by providing students with extra skills that they can then sell to employers. The PGCE courses at Middlesex University, for example, due to being so close to London, will provide new teachers with special training to help them deal with problems more commonly found in inner cities. It is these particular teaching styles that can give an individual the edge in a competitive market for jobs.
It's not only the extra qualification that can help the student compete in the jobs market either. Most respected postgraduate programmes have strong ties with industry that often provide them with real hands-on work experience that both looks good on your CV and provides a foot-in-the-door of a prospective employer.
There’s so much choice out there it’s hard sometimes for students to know which way to turn, but institutions are becoming more flexible in what they can offer students, both in terms of course content and how they teach their subjects. It is, therefore, more important than ever for graduating students take care to choose the right postgraduate course for them.
Postgraduate study is a big financial step, but the economic conditions we find ourselve in and the knock-on effect this has on the graduate jobs market, makes it more than ever the value that can be gained from achieving a postgraduate qualification and training.