In his report International Students in History: A Comparative Study of First-Year Transition, 2009-2010, M.H.Beals surveys students on the impact of their higher education in History on their employability. Students were asked about whether or not their history degree would help them to get a job after graduation, either indirectly or directly.
The Indirect Value of a History Degree
“Although 157 of the 202 (78%) respondents felt that the degree would benefit their employment prospects, their reasons for believing so were vague at best. The most common response was that history provided important transferable skills followed by the fact that history was a respected degree, that a wide liberal arts education was intrinsically beneficial, and that any degree offered an advantage over secondary qualifications.”http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/fac/cross_fac/heahistory/resources/br_beals_internationalfirstyear_20101015.pdf
The Direct Value of a History Degree
- This question “posed particular difficulties for the respondents…. Nearly two-thirds of respondents felt that their history degree would assist them in obtaining work after graduation. By far the most common responses for why it would assist them were that history provided: transferable skills, direct experience for a history-related career and a respected degree.”
- “There was a tendency among under-26s to actually use the stock phrases transferable skills and respected degree in their answers. In the case of the former, a full third of younger respondents used the term, contrasted with only 2 mature students. More tellingly, not a single student over the age of 30 used either phrase.”
- International students were far less likely to feel that their history degree would directly aid their job prospects.
- Those over 26 years old were more likely to be taking the degree either purely for the enjoyment of the subject or as a gateway to postgraduate study
- Female students were slightly more inclined to respond positively to the question than male students.
- Female students were 5 times more likely to express an intention to pursue a career directly related to history, usually primary or secondary education
- Reasons why the degree would not directly aid employment were more varied than reasons why it would :
- not wishing to pursue a history related career
- the degree not being vocational in nature
- an anti-arts bias in the job market
- the need to combine the degree with vocational courses or a postgraduate degree first.
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