STUDENT LIFE / NOV. 06, 2013
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Mickey Mouse Degrees: The Great Debate Rages On

The competitive climate of the job market means that graduates are faced with not only employers who insist on entry level-qualifications, but also the type of qualifications that graduates hold is highly scrutinised as well. I’ve never been a fan of the term “Mickey Mouse degree" - it reminds me of sheer snobbery, David Cameron who weighed in on the debate last week agrees with me by saying:

“For many years there's been snobbery in this country about some degrees. They were called music studies or golf course management and people thought there must be something wrong with these degrees. Frankly we're now going to find out which degrees really benefit people. It will get rid of that snobbery." In my opinion, he couldn’t have chosen a better time to comment on the widespread consensus that some degrees are of a lower calibre than others.

In order to highlight what I, and Mr Cameron are referring to let’s look at the statistics. Degrees in subjects like European languages for example are for some reason considered to be 'impractical' qualifications. Recently, a third of UK universities have struck off even offering students a chance to study language at degree level - the negative stigma attached to these types of degrees is to blame.

Students are rightfully opting to study subjects that will lead to successful employment prospects, yet how are they expected to make independent choices when employers, and even universities show prejudice towards certain subjects?

What constitutes as a prestigious degree comes down to subjective interpretation. Who’s to say that a degree in Heavy Metal or an MA/MSc in Creating Social Media aren’t just as good as a degree in Science or Psychology? No really, who makes up these rules that state that one degree is better than another. It’s one thing to ridicule these degrees - it’s another thing to penalize individuals who hold these degrees in the job market. Surely anyone with a degree demonstrates a level of expertise in their chosen field of study, shouldn’t these people be entitled to the same acknowledgement, job appreciation and prospects?

Now when it comes to the graduate job market, there is no fiercer battlefield than that of the “Mickey Mouse Clubhouse.” In this clubhouse you have all the performance arts, language, design, media, artists, music, and photography job markets. With so few specialist jobs available in these sectors, graduates are forced to immerse themselves in sadistic battles of unpaid internships or meek wages in unrelated professions which I believe is the equivalent of an illegal dog fight.

Individuals with degrees that aren’t considered to be practical face somewhat of a challenge. These degrees aren’t gold dust, they are extremely popular believe it or not. The interest in the arts, media and other creative based qualifications has peaked - yet demand and respect for employment in these sectors has yet to catch up.

What does this mean for graduates with unique degrees? It means that refining their job search and maximising their portfolios will make all the difference. They have an advantage over conventional degree holders in the sense that employers are impressed with distinctive qualifications, and they are on the hunt for people who can demonstrate expertise in particular fields. This is good news for graduates everywhere no matter how debatable their qualifications are.

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