The coalition government released last week a whole host of new measures aimed at universities in a bid to make these institutions more transparent. You can read the full story published in the Telegraph here. I for one fully applaud the sentiment behind these measures, but if you'll allow me a cliché, "the devil is in the detail".
There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that if universities are charging tuition fees - fees which, lets face it, are not only high but set to increase again - then students are fully entitled to know what they are getting for their money. If I was a student today, I would want to know how employable a degree from a specific university would make me, and what my chances would be of getting a job at the end of it.
We conducted a survey back in May asking graduates what they thought of the support they had got from their universities in their job search. The results were pretty damning...
- 43.7% of respondents said that their university didn't provide careers advice
- 47.3% rated their university careers advice as poor or very poor
- 63.5% reckoned that their university degree had not prepared them well for their chosen career
These figures don't make pleasant reading for universities, but we shouldn't jump to conclusions. Here's for the reality check...
At Escape, we know exactly what it takes to provide good careers advice. We have a whole team of people whose sole focus is to find jobs for our students. This team is made of 3 highly skilled recruitment professionals and they place around 200 students a year. Now, you do the maths....if you put that in context and compare these figures with the number of students that universities handle every year, you quickly realise that it would be virtually impossible for universities to provide the same level of support.
In addition to which, not all university students study the same subjects... What enables us to be so successful in finding jobs for our students is the fact that we are highly specialised and very close to the industry in which we operate. Universities wouldn't be able to fund that many experts for each of the disciplines they teach.
So, for all its good intentions, I believe this government will to have to re-think that one...