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Does a degree equal success?

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The majority of students who go to university are aiming for 2:1s and above, and more power to them. I definitely went with that intention. In my mind it was “get a 2:1 or it will all have been for nothing”.

Through hard work, I am proud to say I did. But in today’s job market, is a degree classification all that employers are looking for?

The short answer: no

The answer now is no, not entirely. Some employers have come to the conclusion that a degree will not necessarily equal success in the workplace. Ernst & Young, one of the UK’s biggest graduate recruiters, announced it will remove the degree classification from its entry criteria, saying there is “no evidence” success at university correlates with achievement in later life. The company offers 200 graduate-level jobs each year, making it the fifth largest recruiter of graduates in the UK. The changes will come into force in 2016.

The accountancy firm is scrapping its policy of requiring a 2:1 and the equivalent of three B grades at A-level in order to open opportunities for talented individuals “regardless of their background”. The change will facilitate students and new employees who may not have had the same education opportunities. Companies such as Ernst & Young want to level the playing field for those with potential.

Levelling the playing field

Earlier this year, PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) scrapped using UCAS points as entry criteria for its graduate scheme. The audit firm believes placing too much emphasis on the scores will mean employers may miss out on key talent from disadvantaged backgrounds, who can perform less well at school.

Maggie Stilwell, EY’s managing partner for talent, said the company would use online assessments to judge the potential of applicants. This will be beneficial to hopeful employees who can show they are perfect for the company regardless of previous qualifications. I think this is the best way to ensure the right person will obtain the right job.

The bad news?

On the other hand, although a classification may not be the determining factor, the Guardian’s data has shown that three quarters of employers are still looking for graduates with a 2:1 degree classification. Most employers want to see that if you made the decision to go into higher education or go to colleges, you worked to the best of your ability.

When all is said and done, if you go to university do try your hardest in the essays, modules and experiences the institution will throw at you. If nothing more, at least you will know that you did all you could to prepare yourself for the world of work.

But that qualification is not the be all and end all! Pad out your CV, get experience where you can, be a pleasure to work with and the right job will come knocking.

Does a degree equal success? Tell us what you think below.

Photo: Marco / Flickr

Niamh OllertonDoes a degree equal success?

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