‘Mickey-Mouse’ degrees are lucrative, too

League tables show usual suspects and post-92 vocational graduates fare well in the job market. Hannah Fearn reports

September 14, 2009

University of Cambridge economics graduates may be assured high-paying positions, but the holders of vocational degrees from post-1992 universities also fare well in the graduate job market.

This is the suggestion from a new set of newspaper league tables designed to compare graduates’ employment prospects based on degree programme and university data.

Published yesterday using previously unreleased information from the Higher Education Statistics Agency, The Sunday Times’ tables identify a group of elite degrees, where graduates go straight into jobs paying more than £30,000 a year.

These include economics at Cambridge (where graduates start on an average salary of £38,000 a year), mathematics at the London School of Economics and medicine at seven universities, including Imperial College London and Queen’s University Belfast.

But the tables also highlight another trend: although graduates from newer universities are likely to earn smaller salaries, they are likely to do well if their courses are vocational. Graduates in sports science at the University of Brighton, for example, earned an average of £20,516, more than maths graduates from the University of Manchester.

Pam Tatlow, chief executive of Million+, which represents post-92 universities, said: “Given the limitations of newspaper league tables, this broader analysis has shed much-needed light on the benefits of modern universities and has been a long time coming.”

She said the table helped “nail the myth that so-called ‘Mickey-Mouse’ degrees in the creative industries were a waste of time”.

David Willetts, the Shadow Universities Secretary, said: “I think it is important for young people who are being asked to take on significant debt to know about the likely employment outcomes from their courses. I recognise that the information is imperfect, but publishing it is a good way of driving improvements in the quality of the data.”


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