Claims that there are too many graduates in society and that public money should be taken away from universities are “short-sighted, deceiving and Luddite”, the head of a Scottish university has said.
Bernard King, principal and vice-chancellor of the University of Abertay Dundee and incoming convener of Universities Scotland, said that despite gloom and doom about the tough graduate job market, “you are still more likely to get a job and have a long and rewarding career with a degree than without one”.
Addressing new graduates at the university’s summer ceremony yesterday, he said their degrees represented an investment in the future of society as a whole.
His comments echoed those of David Willetts, the universities and science minister, who insisted last week that degrees were still good investments for students, despite the findings of a survey by the Association of Graduate Recruiters, which suggests that about 70 graduates are now competing for each graduate job.
Urging the government to spare the academy from swingeing cuts, Professor King said that the country would need graduates more than ever as it recovered from the recession.
“University education is now a necessity – expensive but absolutely essential for a nation wishing to survive and prosper in the modern world,” he said.
Professor King added that Britain had to keep pace with other nations, including China and India, which were pouring more money into their universities.
“Closer to home, even economies that endured the financial storms alongside Britain, such as Germany and France, are investing more, not less, in their universities as a strategy to climb out of recession,” he said.