There’s more to a degree than earning potential


Measuring student outcomes by graduate salaries is to know the price of everything and value of nothing, says one reader, while Dr Steven Gascoigne calls for recognition of the role of adult education

The government has announced that universities are to be set targets for the proportion of their students who go on to well-paid jobs, which the minister described as “good outcomes” (UK universities told to show ambition in graduate job targets, 24 November).

We have two adult sons. One took degrees at two of the UK’s top conservatoires, and now works as a cellist with leading symphony orchestras. The other studied law at university and is now a management consultant, mainly in banking. Needless to say, the management consultant earns more than the cellist. So presumably the government regards being a management consultant as a “good outcome”, while being a cellist is a less good outcome. That sounds to me like knowing the price of everything and the value of nothing.

Name and address supplied

Studies on social mobility in relation to universities often miss the important work done by adult education departments in many higher education institutions (England’s most prestigious universities failing to boost social mobility, IFS finds, 24 November).

These departments, recruiting from their local communities, often take students with no formal qualifications and offer tailored degree routes for adult learners that provide a boost in confidence and learning, from which many enter the professions. In the quest for greater social mobility, the role of adult education departments should be celebrated.

Dr Steven Gascoigne
Centre for Lifelong Learning, University of Warwick