to ask if DC shouldn't bother with university if they can't get into a Russell Group one?

(663 Posts)
TuTuTilly Fri 14-Jun-13 18:31:36

I'd never heard of the ruddy things before I joined MN. Didn't even realise I'd been to one. I do recall when I had a tedious summer job in Human Resources which included "sifting" job applications for an international firm of accountants, being told to dump any that weren't from a handful of universities.

So my question is; if your child can't get into an RG university - should they accept that they will be unemployable oiks upon graduation and resign themselves to a life working in call centres?

TuTuTilly Fri 14-Jun-13 18:33:33
superbagpuss Fri 14-Jun-13 18:35:06

I went to uni not on that list

best not tell my employees as I seem to have a good job with a great career plan

livinginwonderland Fri 14-Jun-13 18:35:36

Well, I went to an RG university but I only got a 2:2 and as a result I can't get on to any graduate schemes or courses - my university is irrelevant, basically.

Most jobs care about much more than your university.

Bunbaker Fri 14-Jun-13 18:36:46

I think it only matters for some jobs, not most.

BaconKetchup Fri 14-Jun-13 18:36:59

Ex-polys actually sometimes have rather good employment rates for certain courses, as they tend to have more links with industry and so on.

For an academic subject, however, RG is probably best.

ginmakesitallok Fri 14-Jun-13 18:37:02

Never realised til just now that I turned down a RG Uni in favour of a non-RG one - can't say it made any difference (I've been employed continuosly since graduating about 15 years ago)

LoSiento Fri 14-Jun-13 18:37:03

No that's clearly a silly question. I graduated from a former poly in 2005 and am doing well in a professional and decently paid job. Its more a question of if your DC have the aptitude for a university education and a clear career path. With the ludicrous fees now university in mainland Europe is definitely worth a look.

LineRunner Fri 14-Jun-13 18:37:09

I went to one but didn't realise it at the time.

How things have changed.

AnyFucker Fri 14-Jun-13 18:37:30

Don't be bloody silly

exoticfruits Fri 14-Jun-13 18:38:19

It depends what you want to do as a career. You need to research the best place for your particular course. RG isn't a guarantee of getting a job.
My DS1 went to a RG university, his brother didn't want to- it would have been no good for his field.

IAmNotAMindReader Fri 14-Jun-13 18:39:35

I was offered a place at a RG university but opted to do a very similar course at a none RG university. I did this because the none RG university had the edge with a placement in industry and linked its courses to current cutting edge fields.

exoticfruits Fri 14-Jun-13 18:40:27

If you think that getting into a RG university is going to open doors you will be sadly disillusioned 3/4 yrs later.

RubyOnRails Fri 14-Jun-13 18:41:47

Horseshit. Sorry, that attitude really annoys me. I went to an ex poly and was pulling in 85k by the time I was thirty. And it's a decent career too.

My sister dropped out of a RG uni and could only get work as a secretary for years be use she had no degree.

TuTuTilly Fri 14-Jun-13 18:41:52

Not a silly question at all. Long time since I graduated and will be a long time before DC goes to university if at all so am out of the loop, just going by what I read on MN.

exoticfruits Fri 14-Jun-13 18:41:56

You really must do your homework and get far beyond the 'name'.

hattymattie Fri 14-Jun-13 18:42:11

It didn't exist in my time either - but and accountant friend did say that it is a criteria in the sorting process for the big law and accounting firms.
An upper second from a RG uni seems to be what counts.

bigkidsdidit Fri 14-Jun-13 18:42:26

For some things it is important, but not many I don't think. I'm an academic and there is a lot of snobbery within academia about going to a RG uni. However I realise not many people want to be academics!

exoticfruits Fri 14-Jun-13 18:42:38

Never go by what you read on MN!!

JustinBsMum Fri 14-Jun-13 18:43:28

I know someone who chose graduates for their company's sciencey graduate training course and only selected from Ox Camb, Edinburgh and Imperial College.

Latara Fri 14-Jun-13 18:44:24

I went to a non-RG ex-technical college uni & have had a good career so far based upon my qualifications gained from uni so don't worry so much smile

OutragedFromLeeds Fri 14-Jun-13 18:46:16

I didn't know what RG universities were until I read it on Mumsnet and I also went to one grin.

There probably are some jobs/professions where it really matters what university you went to, but I think they're probably in the minority.

I think it also depends on what you want from university. I got far more in the way of confidence, life skills, friends, a bloody good time etc. than I did in the way of formal education (although I got a good degree, which is useful, but not essential to my job).

Awakeagain Fri 14-Jun-13 18:47:31

I think the universities on that list are not surprising! My friend did a science based degree and got a job in finance (no relation to degree) probably because she went to one if those unis
I think where is best for course and what you actually think you might do after uni is best, if it had a vocational aspect in the field you want to work in or more staff actively researching the area or the best teaching surely that's better than going to a less appealing course just because its on 'the list'

Gosh that sounds a bit ranty! I shall get down off my high horse nowwink

sweetkitty Fri 14-Jun-13 18:48:06

I've got a 2.1 from a RG uni, I'm a SAHM who is virtually unemployable hmm

Hmm..I work for a big 4 accounting firm (although I'm not in accounting) and almost everyone in my team is Russell Group - the only exceptions went to another local uni and did a degree in actuarial studies. I'm pretty sure the same is true for our (much larger) London office too. I would say there are some exceptions - I know we look at St Andrews too for example - but I think you do need to be picky and consider what you want to do afterwards.

BathTangle Fri 14-Jun-13 18:49:47

I went to St Andrews - not a RG university, but the oldest one in Scotland and very highly respected - don't think any employer thought, "oh, not RG, won't look at her".

I then did an MSc at Reading, again not RG: I chose it rather than other RG options because at the time it was the best-regarded uni for the subject (directly related to the career I went into).

I get what you are saying, but RG is NOT everything.

ShadeofViolet Fri 14-Jun-13 18:51:00

I agree it depends what they want to do after university.

For 99% of things it wont matter.

cory Fri 14-Jun-13 18:51:24

<leans down and whispers conspiratorially>

OP, there is a world outside MN where all sorts of interesting and unexpected things can happen

ChablisLover Fri 14-Jun-13 18:51:47

I had never even heard of the Russell group before mumsnet.

Having looked at that list it appears I went to a Russell group Uni! Learn something everyday don't you?

Ime - It didn't help or hinder my jobs prospects.

Pickle131 Fri 14-Jun-13 18:53:01

Not quite OP but you are onto something. I work in higher ed and do a lot of work / research in vocational education. I am inclined to think that a skilled route into work via college and / or apprenticeship would be a better course of action for many young people. And I don't mean just those who did less well in their GCSEs. All this studying is ultimately meant to be about finding your niche in the workplace and the increasingly standard route via uni isn't the best for everyone. I do think that a useful higher ed course needs to be directly vocational (eg dentistry, teaching, engineering etc) or critical thinking based (eg philosophy) in order to give you the edge.

exoticfruits Fri 14-Jun-13 18:54:48

MNetters get hung up on all sorts of things that give a totally false impression of RL.

BeKindToYourKnees Fri 14-Jun-13 19:06:58

Given that the majority of universities are charging £9k per annum for tuitions fees, surely as a student you would want to spend that money on being taught by a RG Uni?

Bobyan Fri 14-Jun-13 19:09:40

I'm not sure what I find more comical, a RG graduate who didn't know they were a RG graduate.
Or the fact that upon discovering they were a RG graduate, the OP is now trying to decide if non-RG degrees are worthless by asking an internet forum of total strangers.

And what exactly is wrong with working in a call centre? Any work experience is better than signing on.

littlewhitebag Fri 14-Jun-13 19:10:13

I too went to St Andrews, then an OU degree, then dipSw at Stirling. None are Russell group. I have never been out of work.

Chunderella Fri 14-Jun-13 19:11:08

It depends, but I suspect that as things get more competitive it will start to become more important. The ex-poly people in this thread who have done well all seem to have left quite a while ago, one wonders if it will be the same for the class of 2013. The Russell Group doesn't cover all the top universities anyway, but people do tend to use it as shorthand for that. But just as not all RG universities and courses are created equal, neither are all non-RGs. So for example if you have a B Ed from Manchester Met, that's a rather prestigious course. If your DC can get onto that course, they'll have done very well indeed and it's a good foundation for a teaching career. There's a world of difference between that and a degree in a woolly sounding arts subject from somewhere closer to the bottom of the league tables.

chickydoo Fri 14-Jun-13 19:11:42

My DH didn't go to Uni, now working for a large international bank he employs 200+ staff and has a budget of ( A hell of a lot ) his equivalent in other banking organisations have degrees & masters, many from RG unis. DH's direct boss always asks DH to employ the lawyers and accountants from RG unis. DH laughs at him & reminds him that he is not a uni person & only employs his staff on their potential for the company. This usually shuts his boss up.
I didn't go to to uni either, but have run my own successful business for the last 15 years.
I think if you can get to interview stage then what uni you went to doesn't matter. If the company only employ from certain unis, they are not worth the bother, there will be better employers out there.

Salmotrutta Fri 14-Jun-13 19:13:15

The reason St Andrews isn't Russell Group is because its considered too small.

So size apparently does matter hmm


TuTuTilly Fri 14-Jun-13 19:14:58

"OP, there is a world outside MN where all sorts of interesting and unexpected things can happen"

Cory - I think you may have just blasphemed! What is this world outside of MN of which you dare to speak?

landofsoapandglory Fri 14-Jun-13 19:15:23

DS1 has put a RG down as his 1st choice Uni if he goes in the Autumn. He hasn't picked it because it is RG, he picked it because of the course, the location and the feel of the place. It was a close run thing between that one and his insurance choice, though, which I preferred and still think he would like better.

exoticfruits Fri 14-Jun-13 19:16:34

Bekindtoyourknees- if you are spending £9k a year then you are very silly just to assume that RG is best for you- you need to do a much more 'in depth' study.

Elquota Fri 14-Jun-13 19:16:58

Some employers will be narrow-minded enough to screen by that method, yes. But there are many, many more that don't. The experience of university life is valuable, as well as the degree course. Meeting a wider range of people than many people do in the world of work, the social life, experimenting with different ideas and ways of being, etc. Ideally at university you become a more rounded person, with your brain being stretched in different directions, rather than simply learning skills for a job.

Carolra Fri 14-Jun-13 19:18:24

They have an obvious typo on their "About Us" page... I went to a non-RG uni, have a good city job and know the importance of proof reading....

exoticfruits Fri 14-Jun-13 19:19:12

We need Xenia on here- she would narrow it down and throw out most of the RG!!

BeKindToYourKnees Fri 14-Jun-13 19:20:30

*exoticfruits" why do you assume that me and my DD have not done an "in-depth" study?

whois Fri 14-Jun-13 19:20:37

Choosing the right uni is very important. There is no point doing 'law' or something like that at an ex-polls and expect to actually be able to get a training contract.

Likewise you are often best placed going to an ex-polly for some of the 'newer' subjects as they often have better established, more respected courses with better links to industry.

If you just want to do a general subject degree like English Lit or Economics of Geography and then go into a standard graduate job, I think you do need to go to a decent uni and get a 2:1.

Latara Fri 14-Jun-13 19:21:03

All the current intake from my non-RG ex-poly uni are awaiting the results of their first job interviews (a cousin of mine is among them) - they are likely to all find employment in their chosen (vocational) career of Nursing, just like most previous intakes.

The ex-Poly uni offers mainly practical work-experience based business, forensic, journalism & media, arts (fashion, film etc) or vocational courses (Nursing, social work etc) with an extremely high post-grad employment rate in those chosen fields.

ChipsNEggs Fri 14-Jun-13 19:21:28

Durham only joined the RG very recently. I don't think their graduates applications were consigned to the bin before they joined.

The University attended is only one factor.

TuTuTilly Fri 14-Jun-13 19:21:37

Bobyan - glad you are so easily amused grin I would wager most of the people at my university didn't know it was RG - I spent four years there and never heard it mentioned.

And the whole point of Mumsnet is to get information out of total strangers! Or do you all know each other in real life cos you all went to the same RG university?

BeKindToYourKnees Fri 14-Jun-13 19:21:52

exoticfruits why do you assume that me and my DD have not done an "in-depth" study?

SizzleSazz Fri 14-Jun-13 19:22:25

I used to do some recruitment for a Big 4 firm and RG was never a requirement. They accepted me too (for accountancy) without it...

exoticfruits Fri 14-Jun-13 19:22:36

A more interesting question, and one that will increasingly get asked, is 'should I go to university?'.

iamadoozermum Fri 14-Jun-13 19:23:56

I didn't go to a Russell Group Uni for my undergrad degree and I'm an academic so it didn't do me any harm smile. I would go by the quality of the course and having worked and studied at a variety of institutions - Russell Group, 1994 Group, University Alliance, Million+ and GuildHE - being at a Russell Group is no guarantee of a good educational experience. At Russell Group unis, a fair bit of teaching is often done by the PhD students, for example. Different unis have different specialities and so have reputations in different fields. So it is more important to go to the place with the good reputation in that field, sometimes that will be Russell Group, sometimes not.

Latara Fri 14-Jun-13 19:24:18

Sorry i meant all those from the current intake at my ex-poly uni Nursing course are likely to get employment in nursing jobs, hope that's clearer.

exoticfruits Fri 14-Jun-13 19:25:05

Because you use the word 'surely',BekindtoyourKnees and there is no 'surely' about it. They are not the best place for some courses.

EstelleGetty Fri 14-Jun-13 19:27:12

It's sad that any employer would judge a candidate on that basis. I teach at an RG university just now and, to be honest, I think the research culture in many former polys and red bricks that I've visited is far more interesting and vibrant. Far less stuck in the past. I was blown away by Edge Hill and Sussex.

I did my undergrad at art school. Didn't stop me getting the only fully funded PhD place in the department that I'm now researching and teaching in in an RG! It totally depends what sort of career/subject your DCs are interested in.

blueemerald Fri 14-Jun-13 19:28:41

I don't think it used to matter so much but I'm 25 and several of my friends have mentioned their companies/industries using the Russell Group/Non Russell Group check as a way of whittling down extreme numbers of job applications. These fields include teaching, actuarial work, law, scientific research and so on. I think with ever increasing numbers of people going to university which university you went to will start to make a much bigger difference soon.

exoticfruits Fri 14-Jun-13 19:31:27

Very good graduates from RG universities are working in shops and coffee bars etc- the country is staffed with them! Graduate employment is dire at the moment- I don't think people understand that.

INeedSomeSun Fri 14-Jun-13 19:32:08

I went to an ex-poly. I did law. It definately hindered my career prospects going to that uni. I probably could have got into a better uni as most of the other people on my course had lower grade A levels than me...

I will make sure that my DC go to established unis and not ex-polys. Obviously law is very competitive though, it might not be the same in all cases.

exoticfruits Fri 14-Jun-13 19:33:47

That is where you need to do your homework a d find the best places for law, which are no doubt some RG universities.

propertyNIGHTmareBEFOREXMAS Fri 14-Jun-13 19:36:27


Bobyan Fri 14-Jun-13 19:36:50

Maybe you should look at performance indicators, such as drop out rates, post graduate employment rates and earning levels for graduates and make an informed decision...

But maybe that's just me.

exoticfruits Fri 14-Jun-13 19:36:59

I think we are failing a whole generation- they jump through all the right educational hoops and then BANG - they meet the real world and it is tough- you need far more than the 'right' university. I have 10 yrs between my DSs and it is far, far worse now than 10 yrs ago (and it was pretty bad then).

IgnatiusSprat Fri 14-Jun-13 19:37:25

I went to an RG uni. I got a First and everything. I even won an award. I have a shit job grin

invicta Fri 14-Jun-13 19:40:02

Some non RG courses are better for certain industries. Eg, for motor sports, I thing Oxford Brooks is best.

cranverry Fri 14-Jun-13 19:42:19

Well I went to a non RG university and was offered a job by one of the biggest accounting firms in the world. Some recruiters can see past the university name thankfully.

nemno Fri 14-Jun-13 19:46:16

It depends on what your DC want to be. For some , mainly vocational, courses an ex poly might be the very best place to go. For some firms eg in investment banking, law, accountancy then even some RG universities are not 'good enough'.

But my son graduated last year from a non RG/not top notch university but had a job lined up before he even graduated with a £28,000 starting salary. His course has excellent graduate recruitment prospects but many of his friends on other courses are struggling. My other recently graduated son was at a solid RG university but also has many friends who have yet to get relevant graduate employment.

southeastastra Fri 14-Jun-13 19:46:31

i know so many grads who have gone to bog standard universities and have got proper jobs and everything hmm

silly op but only on mn would a child be deemed a failure if they didn't get 22 x A*s and into a top university. I feel sorry for the kids mostly, wonder how many of them actually want the careers thrust upon them by parents who live in some sort of bubble outside of the real world.

Startail Fri 14-Jun-13 19:48:25

Like sweetkitty I'm another SAHM *RG graduate who stand zero chance of getting a job.

*actually RG was formed as I left, I'm old.

Honestly don't get hung up on RG only, St Andrews for example isn't on the list, but is a very well regarded uni,

DD1 wants to do something specialised and many of the best courses are at non RG universities.

FiftyshadesofYoni Fri 14-Jun-13 19:49:58

Totally depends on what course and career path they want to follow, some careers it matters, others it doesn't.

wordfactory Fri 14-Jun-13 19:53:02

Well OP , it's yes and no.

I mean, obviously many studnets graduate from non-RG universities and get good jobs.

Indeed for some courses, RG would not be the way to go.

However, there is no point pretending that in some (generally highly paid) fields it is far far easier to secure a position if you attended an RG university.

And yes, there are some fields where you would be excluded in all liklihoon if you did not attend an RG.

Things have got much worse on this score during the recession!

TuTuTilly Fri 14-Jun-13 20:02:46

Christ - those of you who think my OP is silly musn't get around much on MN hmm

RevoltingPeasant Fri 14-Jun-13 20:05:10

OP - I taught for seven years at a large RG university and now at a big regional ex poly.

RG unis mostly get more research funding. The plus is they are more likely to have starry professors. The minus is said professors are more likely to be off on leave. My old institution had PhD students doing nearly all the 1st year teaching, eg.

By contrast, I now run our dept's MA scheme and over half our intake are our own undergrads, who have had such a good time with, they don't want to leave. A lot more thought is put into teaching than in my previous job.

There are various indicators to use. One is the DLHE study, which charts the destinations of leavers of higher education - so you can see what jobs former students tend to get. Another is to look at the KIS data - key information sets - now available on all UCAS pages for each course. It will give you in depth data on contact time and student satisfaction. You should also go to open days and talk to staff and student reps.

Personally, I also believe strongly that university is about education which is valuable in its own right. But you will find a lot of people who are very snobbish about that view...!

CSIJanner Fri 14-Jun-13 20:05:39

DH lectures at a non-RG university. His courses have 94% employment rates within the discipline they are taught. It's how you apply yourself and also the schools connections to their industry that count.

That success rate is after they toss out the cheating plagerising little shits that chance their luck - but you'll find those in any academic circle, RG or not.

Lazyjaney Fri 14-Jun-13 20:28:59

Not all top Unis are Russel Group, some very good ones are outside it
Not all Russel Group Unis are top ones, some have slipped in rankings

This is a better guide of good Unis, searchable by course

The real think to look for are the average UCAS scores, tells you the A level results of the student body.

In my experience the more independently measurable your degree is (technology, law. medicine, maths, accountancy etc) the less you need RG.

emess Fri 14-Jun-13 20:32:01

I went to a RG uni and was unemployed on leaving. Later carved out a career in an unrelated field, and did an HNC at a then-poly (now a uni) which helped me change employers. Now moved on into a different field and, ironically, work in a non-RG but highly-research-intensive uni which has a really high reputation in many fields. I know many companies rate my current employer very highly re producing quality graduates.

DD went to another non-RG uni which has a really high reputation in her chosen field of study. She got a 2:1 and is currently doing a masters, abroad, in a very choosy university.

So, does it matter? Not necessarily. You need to scratch beneath the surface. RG is a nice club. End of.

havingamadmoment Fri 14-Jun-13 20:33:10

I dont think it really matters. I went to one of these universities and didnt even know about it until I read it on MN.

Hmm I'd never heard of a RG uni until I came to MN. I went to Heriot-Watt, which is virtually unheard of down here in Hampshire, but it doesn't seem to have done me any harm. I'm recruiting at the moment and honestly care more about the actual degree and associated award than the university which it relates too.

dexter73 Fri 14-Jun-13 20:37:48

Me neither havingamadmoment until about 2 minutes ago! (Southampton btw)

MalcolmTuckersMum Fri 14-Jun-13 20:42:15

Thabo Mbeki graduated from Sussex - apparently a non-RG university and he seems to have done ok for himself.
Actually I can't bear this sort of piffle - for what is it designed? Oh yes, to make a whole bunch of people feel in some way inadequate. What a crock.

IfIonlyhadsomesleep Fri 14-Jun-13 20:42:36

It depends. Do you think all will also be lost if your dc do not get a job with a top law or accountancy firm after graduating? I have a degree from a rg university and I'm sorry to tell you that I am a primary school teacher who is currently a sahm. So that was a wasted degree then? hmm

thebody Fri 14-Jun-13 20:46:43

If attitudes like this still exist I can understand why other so called 3rd world economies are outperforming us.

Pile of absolute crap.

Shenanagins Fri 14-Jun-13 20:53:52

I would say that the course reputation in industry is far more important. The university i went to was renowned in the engineering world so a degree in that subject would supercede in the business world's eyes one from some of the "better" universities.

in our graduate recruitment programme we target certain universities for certain programmes and they are not necessarily on the rg list purely on the reputation of course standards, that is not to say we would disregard those who didn't attend the targeted universities.

TuTuTilly Fri 14-Jun-13 20:57:55

Thanks for all the helpful replies.

My SIL is hoping to study Modern Foreign Languages with a view to teaching them. Will have a look at some of the resources/links that MNetters have kindly provided smile

Elquota Fri 14-Jun-13 21:23:34

I'm sure your SIL will be snapped up for both university and a job in the future smile Good teachers are not that easy for schools to come by.

Southeastdweller Fri 14-Jun-13 22:26:52

Former-poly grad here.

Firstly, I don't like your call centre comment - there's nothing wrong with working in a call centre, regardless of your qualifications and where you did your degree. I guess your oiks remark was tongue in cheek given how weird it was.

Of course some employers actively seek RG students and graduates but they're in the minority, and I'm sure there's some post-grad tutors who prefer to teach RG graduates. So for those reasons, if your son is fortunate to get the grades for offers at a former poly and a Russell Group uni and both are similar in every way apart from one is in a club and one isn't, then yes he'd be crazy not to go to the RG uni.

I think a lot of parents on MN put too much emphasis on their kids going to Russell Group uni's, thinking this is the gateway to utopia. The golden ticket. For most RG graduates - at least the ones I've met and worked wth - it's not like that or anything close but having that name on your CV can certainly help. As mentioned upthread, all kids now need to look at employment stats and work experience opportunities.

I've also noticed that when this topic comes up, that one thing that people usually forget is how important the personality of the student is. To get on, contacts are so, so important. The best students on paper will find it a struggle to find the jobs in the first place, get the interview, get the job and move up, if they're socially awkward and have trouble making and maintaining relationships. Personally, I'm in an OK job (no, not a call centre) and I know can do better but struggle to because I lack drive.

TuTuTilly Fri 14-Jun-13 22:37:51

Nothing wrong with working in a call centre if you want low pay, low status, high stress, repetitive work. Hardly worth spending 3 years at university for.

raisah Fri 14-Jun-13 22:40:39

I didnt go to a RG uni but I work in one and I am shocked by the poor quality of students that walk through the door. I personally dont think it should count which uni a person goes to knowing what I know now. I have got a decent.job which I got on my own merit.not. through networks & which uni I went to.

edwinbear Fri 14-Jun-13 22:46:55

I went to an ex poly. I'm now an investment banker on the trading floor of a top 4 clearing bank earning very good money indeed. So from my personal experience, YABU.

garlicgrump Fri 14-Jun-13 22:58:35

In my family:
24yo, consultant with huge international financial corp.
24yo, consultant with huge international business corp.
23yo, hotshot sports trainer with top-league team.
21yo, software genius, earning while still at uni.
All got good degrees (except the youngest, who will,) none from RG smile

AndHarry Fri 14-Jun-13 23:02:53

As someone who didn't finish their degree, I will be moving hell and high water to make sure that my DC either get a good degree or finish a higher level vocational qualification of their choice. I have a good career because someone chose to interview me on the off-chance that I might be alright even though I didn't have a degree. So many doors are closed to me because I don't have that 2:1 from any university.

passmetheprozac Fri 14-Jun-13 23:28:02

Well i'm fucked as I am studying part time with the Open uni, whilst working full time. Should I quit whilst i'm ahead and resign myself to working in retail forever there is nothing wrong with working in retail

Bluebell99 Fri 14-Jun-13 23:33:26

Just realised I turned down a RG university place for at Exeter forSussex sad.

apostropheuse Fri 14-Jun-13 23:37:59

I only heard about RG universities on Mumsnet!

St Andrew's, Oxford and Cambridge are all missing.

Perhaps the DC will just have to go to one of these instead wink

RichManPoorManBeggarmanThief Fri 14-Jun-13 23:41:51

I don't think it's possible for us to judge this based on own experiences if we're older than 30. When I graduated there were definitely people in my graduate intake ( big 4 accounting) who were non - Russell group including ex-polys. My understanding is that they now take from a much narrower pool. People have to do their research. If you don't know what you want to do then I think the best advice is to do an academic subject at the best rated uni you can get into, purely because it keeps your options open.

ComposHat Sat 15-Jun-13 00:01:08

Russell Group is bullshit. I say that as someone who attended Cambridge and two Russell Group institutions. ALthough the term wasn't in circulation much when I was an undergrad.

The Russell Group Universities selected themselves about 20 years ago and styled themselves as 'leading research institutions.' It isn't directly linked to academic performance, in fact the Russell Group University I am doing my PhD at isn't amongst the best 20 academic institutions in the UK by most measures.

Sadly, employers, students and parents seem to be increasingly fixated by the term. It isn't a gold seal of quality or of a capable student.

Some universities have excellent reputations for certain things, for example the University of Dundee produces more professional students than any other in Scotland (thanks to their large and well regarded medical and dentistry schools)

MorganMummy Sat 15-Jun-13 00:07:09

Oxford and Cambridge are on there, apostropheuse. St Andrews is too small but is regarded as on a par by those who consider such things.

It can help what uni you go to, but equally it may not matter at all. It opens up doors for me in teaching to have a good degree from a 'top' university, but I'm not exactly earning a lot. I could see someone doing an engineering degree at a non-RG and becoming an entrepreneur and making a million times my salary. Having said that, RG is like shorthand for the unis asking for highest UCAS points so in terms of the average academic calibre I think they do have to be regarded as a useful guide.

megsmouse Sat 15-Jun-13 00:18:07

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

SomedayIllFlyAway Sat 15-Jun-13 00:22:54

When I went to uni in 1999, I had never heard of RG uni's; my school year group talked about Oxbridge, 'red brick', 'old uni's, and 'ex- poly's'. We knew which uni's fitted into that heirarchy and we then looked at the teaching and research scores / grades for each course/ faculty / school / department we were likely to get onto.

DH and I both went to an RG uni. My post grad courses have been at ex poly's (both industry related, so the better option for me), and DH's post doc research was at a different RG uni. I am now a SAHM, but was earning above the national average wage, and had the potential to be earning £40k + (but quit to have kids); DH earns more. I worked al

usualsuspect Sat 15-Jun-13 00:36:02

You are making the classic mistake of thinking MN is like the real world.

ComposHat Sat 15-Jun-13 00:37:33

I briefly considered studying at the University of Lunn (formerly Lunn Poly)

elQuintoConyo Sat 15-Jun-13 00:41:53

Yanbu. If you can't get into an RG university, you are obviously pretty thick and shouldn't waste time and money going somewhere else in a shit town.

elQuintoConyo Sat 15-Jun-13 00:45:09

(Heavy on the sarcasm)

I went to a non-RG university before they existed in a shit town and got myself a shiny First. I've never been unemployed (except now as a sahm).

Would a First from Luton be like a failed-not-quite Third from Edinburgh?

elQuintoConyo Sat 15-Jun-13 00:48:12

And please can we stop dissing people who work in call-centres? How can you tell they haven't got a 2:1 from Manchester but had a nervous breakdown and just need a job to pay the bills? (For extreme example!)

olidusUrsus Sat 15-Jun-13 02:40:35

I did my BA, my MPhil and am now doing my DPhil at a RG Uni thanks to Uni for having such fucking obvious classifications. As someone has said before me: the RG title and the power some seem to think it brings is utter bullshit usually only believed by self righteous mothers: "well my son got into Leeds so good fucking luck at Canterbury".

Far, far more important is the mark you leave with (and this is relative, you might want to further advance in academia, you might not) and, more essentially, the aptitude of the individual student.

For example, some people who attended non-RG & non-redbricks for very difficult subjects such as Law complain that they struggle to find employment after they graduate.
Lots of those people complain that it is because of the establishment they attended: that if they went to a RG they would have snapped up employment instantly upon taking up their mortar board. No. The likelihood is that they just found a better candidate than you. Perhaps the easiest way to accept this is to say "I knew I should have gone to LSE" and curse at how much more stupid their ex-classmates were than them.

I have made an error in my own education that many others at Oxbridge also commit: I have stuck to one institution for my entire educational career. When I graduate, I will have spent the best part of 10 years learning in the same institution, using the same methods, studying with the same resources. This shouldn't affect me greatly, because I hope to stick with academia. But, for employers, this is Very Bad.

Modern employers want to see flexibility, adaptability, the ability to cope with change; different institutions; different tutors; new places; different learning styles. Provide your child with a varied education, make sure they aren't boring let them have and build extra curricular interests and become independent, successful adults.

Shit that went on a bit. Sorry grin

sashh Sat 15-Jun-13 03:02:04

What's wrong with the 1994 uni's?

mathanxiety Sat 15-Jun-13 04:52:10

Mbeki has received worldwide criticism for his AIDS stance. He questions the link between viruses and AIDS and believes that the correlation between poverty and the AIDS rate in Africa was a challenge to the viral theory of AIDS. His fate was not helped by Health Minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang and the overhaul of the pharmaceutical industry in South Africa. The delay in distributing antiretroviral drugs is attributed to the ban he placed on their use in public state hospitals, and is also linked to the estimated deaths of some hundreds of thousands. Thabo Mbeki has also been criticised for responding to negative comments made about his government by accusing critics of racism [from Wikipedia]

Frpm The Guardian 2008 - headline "Mbeki Aids denial 'caused 300,000 deaths'"
Following Mbeki's ousting from the leadership of the African National Congress in September, South Africa is now urgently pursuing new policies to get treatment to as many people as possible under a new health minister, Barbara Hogan.

If I were the University of Sussex I wouldn't exactly be proud of Thabo Mbeki.

<neither here nor there>

readyforthehills Sat 15-Jun-13 06:12:09

TLDR surely my kids are smarter than that though!

Habbibu Sat 15-Jun-13 06:20:14

Russell group is a self selecting lobby group. It's not of itself any indicator of quality. It is, I think, made up of institutions with a high research income by volume - if you looked at the per capita income the list would be different.

MalcolmTuckersMum Sat 15-Jun-13 06:25:05

Who's proud of Mbeki? grin and double grin? I'm going to treat myself to another grin for you even reading that into my post.

KittensoftPuppydog Sat 15-Jun-13 10:12:12

Really sad this thread. I'm old enough to have benefitted from a full grant so I did a subject I loved. Didn't give a toss about getting a job afterwards.

catgirl1976 Sat 15-Jun-13 10:45:02

RG didn't exist when I went to uni

As it happened I did go to one but the outcry in my family because I had gone to a red brick (York) shock and not a proper university (Oxbridge, St Andrews, Durham etc) was a nightmare.

BelaLugosisShed Sat 15-Jun-13 11:01:21

DD did her Maths degree at Derby (non RG) and is just finishing her PGCE at Nottingham (RG). She much preferred Derby. She starts teaching in a very good local High school in September, beating applicants from , amongst other places , Oxford.

thefuturesnotourstosee Sat 15-Jun-13 12:52:39

I went to one got a 2:2 and fucked up my future career plans as a result. I regret working harder and not taking the opportunities that were there for me.

Actually I had offers from 5 of the universities on that list and could ahve gone to any of them. However I think the way my life has gone I could have gone to any old poly and never noticed the difference a few years down the line


exoticfruits Sat 15-Jun-13 13:05:09

If people think that going to a particular university is going to guarantee success in life they are in for a shock!

catgirl1976 Sat 15-Jun-13 13:07:56

I can safely say my degree, degree result and choice of uni have made zip difference to my career

I did have a bloody good time at all 3 I went to though smile But careerwise it hasn't made a jot of difference

therumoursaretrue Sat 15-Jun-13 13:15:27

I had offers from 4 RG unis and went to a non-RG university in the end. It was the only one that could offer me the specific course I wanted. Although the courses at the other unis would have been a path into my career choice they would not have given me the professional qualification I actually needed.

The important factor is how good a uni is for a particular course. An RG uni is all well and good, but only if it caters well for your chosen subject.

lljkk Sat 15-Jun-13 13:19:11

I work for a nonRG uni and we get regular emails from High-Admin about how our institution beats RG in XYZ ways (quite valid points, but then they don't blow trumpet about things they don't beat RG at, do they?). Kind of funny. Insecure or what. MN obsession with RG is just further buying into the nonsense.

ComposHat Sat 15-Jun-13 13:35:18

As it happened I did go to one but the outcry in my family because I had gone to a red brick (York)

York is a Plate Glass University not a redbrick. The distinction is between when they were established.

These silly social distinctions don't really matter, but Red Bricks are the Universities formed during the end of the nineteenth century and early twentieth century (Manchester, Liverpool, Birmingham, Bristol, Sheffield and Leeds).

The plate glass universities were formed in the 1960s in the second great wave of higher education expansion. The plate glasses include York, Sussex and Warwick.

Interestingly very few universities were founded between 1900 and 1960s. I can't think of any that were founded in the post war period.

williaminajetfighter Sat 15-Jun-13 13:38:19

Really does depend on what your Dcs want to study nor instance Loughborough has the best sports programs in the country and Leicester the best in Museum Studies but neither are RG.

On the other hand if your DCs just want to study a traditional subject like Englisg best to go for an RG univ.

I used to head the marketing dept at a Russell group univ so have seen the stats on student outcomes and employment. Rg students do fare better long term but that can be down to a lot of things not just univ choice. Most distressing is that Oxbridge grads will make twice the salary of other grads over their lifetime,

Lots of defensive people on here saying how well they did despite attending ex polys or getting a third or whatever. Keep in mind the playing field is much much different and much much more competitive than it was in the 80/90s/00s. 'twas easier to get employment and sell oneself as a univ grad.

catgirl1976 Sat 15-Jun-13 14:52:11

I wish I'd known that at 18 compos - I could have told them whilst I was telling them to chill out smile

I bloody loved York. It was excellent.

I think it's a pretty recent addition to the RG group.

I also went to Sheffield Hallam (ex-poly) and UEA. I am not sure if there is a classification called "Eastern Bloc Prison Unis" but that campus deserves the title smile

TheRealFellatio Sat 15-Jun-13 15:03:05

There are plenty of very good (and in some cases excellent) universities which are not Russell Group. Sussex and UEA, for example. I would say there are some third rate 'universities' that are barely worthwhile bothering with, and if they are all you can get into then you should be asking yourself whether a degree is the right thing for you, and whether it's worth taking on the debt for, given that you probably won't be any more employable for it than if you hadn't bothered, but I don't think that only RG universities should be taken seriously - no.

lljkk Sat 15-Jun-13 15:10:56

"Keep in mind the playing field is much much different and much much more competitive than it was in the 80/90s/00s. 'twas easier to get employment and sell oneself as a univ grad."

But that's what folk said in the 80s/90s about how much the world had changed since 50s/60s so why Uni degree so essential in the new world of the 80s-90s.

Graduates unlikely to ever exceed about 35% of the population. The idea that 65% of us are written off (or 90% if you include nonRG grads). Don't be silly. I know a lot of electricians doing very nicely, thanks.

williaminajetfighter Sat 15-Jun-13 16:38:27

lljkk I'm not disagreeing with you on that. Far far too many people go to University these days. As I think I mentioned early on I used to be HeadofMarketing at an RG University so had exposure to a lot of students, saw drop out rates, success rates etc.

What's particularly worrying is the people who don't know what they want to do and just sort of float through 3 years of Uni hoping a career will magically appear. Apprenticeships and trade work is often more lucrative but also means you likely get to be your own employer/boss instead of working at a desk for someone for the rest of your life.

But what I'm saying is that things are much much more competitive. Good companies only recruit at a few universities now whereas they was much wider recruitment. Internships are now only offered to students from certain universities and programs. Employers do whittle down based on both University and grade (I know because I've liaised with recruiters on this). There is now not much of a 'cachet' associated with having a university degree so potential employers find much more ways to filter.

mathanxiety Sat 15-Jun-13 16:53:16

I am inclined to agree, with regret, that going to any university you get into might not be sensible, and aiming for quality (or for what employers perceive as quality) is sensible. There will always be exceptional individuals with drive or luck who do well no matter how they did and no matter where they went, but looking realistically at what you want to do after university and asking hard questions about employability upon graduation isn't snobbery despite use of the word cachet. It's being practical.

If employers sift by RG vs non-RG and if your chosen field is one that requires a degree then I would put my ears back and go for broke in the direction of RG. If that wasn't going to be a possibility, I would have a plan B that featured universities abroad and would have the added value of having to learn another language even if the language of instruction was English. Or Trinity College Dublin, UCD or DCU.

Dackyduddles Sat 15-Jun-13 16:56:06

You go to the best place in your field of study. Believe it or not that's not always an RG uni.


And why the snobs on call centres? Bit uncalled for. I've met some very thick lawyers.

crashdoll Sat 15-Jun-13 17:18:00

For my subject, the non-RG universities are head and shoulders above the RG ones in the league tables. That said, one should take league tables with a massive pinch of salt.

olidusUrsus Sat 15-Jun-13 17:22:47

If employers sift by RG vs non-RG

They don't. At least, no employer worth working for does.

Talkinpeace Sat 15-Jun-13 17:29:59

It depends entirely on the course.
It is far better to get a good degree from ANY university on the right course than to faff about arbitrary things like RG.

A friend of mine is a lecturer on a course at a non RG Uni that would have many of the private school parents in tears if I named it.
It has 100% graduate employment in the field with many self start millionaires among the alumni.

williaminajetfighter Sat 15-Jun-13 17:30:38

Olidus but there are employers who do that. Big ones. Why don't you check where P&G recruits from? Loads of major employers now only recruit from some universities. And they do 'sift'...

olidusUrsus Sat 15-Jun-13 17:36:24

Have just looked up P&G graduate programmes and can't find anything to do with university specification. Can you give me a link as to where you read it?

I just find a lot of "well you have to go to RG because so-and-so only hires from them" is bullshit and (IME) a lot of people who have actually never been to university seem to hold that particular belief my mum.

williaminajetfighter Sat 15-Jun-13 17:54:05

look olidus this is based on my experience of running the marketing department of a University and working closely with the careers and recruitment teams. Certain companies ONLY recruit at some Universities now whereas their reach was a lot broader. Look at the list of recruiters at say the London School of Business versus say, University of Bedfordshire. (I've not attended either but London Biz school ranked no. 1). Check where P&G recruits from as they are one of the big companies that still have an active program. I doubt they'll publish their 'criteria around which universities they expect people to attend' or 'how they sift their staff'. Um, most HR departments won't do that either.

Also I attended business school and even then recruiters only went to a few schools, not all, and were very specific about where students studied.

williaminajetfighter Sat 15-Jun-13 17:58:04

sorry meant to write London Business School not London school ofbiz...

call centre comment is out of date OP

my experience with call centres are that they can provide excellent career paths for graduates ie experience of managing a team, training, sales, etc - with very good salary for a graduate (who has no employment experience!)

btw i am brought in as a consultant on good money with a non RG degree and masters smile

BOF Sat 15-Jun-13 18:04:48

There is a disproportionate amount of wheelsqueaking on MN from certain quarters about RG universities, often in posts where its relevance is dubious. Rather like shoehorning in the fact you won a spelling bee when you were 11 or similar, it doesn't necessarily relate to success or happiness in the real world, or people wouldn't feel the need to bang on about it.

trackies Sat 15-Jun-13 18:14:38

I never knew about RG uni's when i went to uni.
Did maths degree and stuggled to get a job in early 90's, so did some postgrad studies at a different non-RG uni and got a good graduate postion job, and ended up doing very well career wise.
Both uni's were not RG but still in top 20 to 35.
So no i don't think everyone looks at RG, but some highly paid prefessions in the City may do.
I would still encourage uni, but remembering that lots of people have degrees now and maybe try to get in one that's int he top half rather than the bottom half if poss.
It was easier decision in my day as we didn't have tuition fees !

I think that a degree in any subject from a 'good' university - russell group, oxbridge or other established institution (and I include places such as Sussex and UEA in that) is worth having. A specialised or vocational degree from an institution highly regarded for that is also worth having. A degree such as English from University-the-only-one-I-could-get-in-to is a waste of money.

I am just about to recuit my third apprentice in the NHS. The two previous candidates did not have a degree - or a job. After their apprenticeship they have a NVQ, excellent references, the opportunity to learn from me (ten years NHS experience), extensive interview and application prep and bags of confidence. They have both got jobs within the NHS and one has already been promoted. The cost to them? Zero. Granted the apprentice wage is awful but they're started on their careers now and have gone straight to jobs paying double that wage. That's a better deal for a LOT of young people I think.

olidusUrsus Sat 15-Jun-13 18:24:58

Look, will hmm please don't be patronising - I'm sure discrimination of that sort does happen, but I doubt that is widespread or done by credible employers.

This is based on my experience of conducting research for Oxford under the supervision of Professors and working alongside people who were trained in all sorts of places.

Ultimately there are more important factors to consider than the name of the institution you attend.

Re: P&G, you made it sound like there was easily accessible information available but that I was just too stupid to find it.

olidusUrsus Sat 15-Jun-13 18:29:00

Look at the list of recruiters at say the London School of Business versus say, University of Bedfordshire
I doubt they'll publish their criteria around which universities they expect people to attend

Conflicting info. Not sure what you want me to look up?.

Copthallresident Sat 15-Jun-13 18:33:40

I apologise if someone has already made this point, I did go through the comments but couldn't find anyone highlighting it.

The Russell Group is a bunch of universities who got together (at the Russell Hotel, hence the name) to create a powerful lobbying gang group. Other universities equally if not higher in the rankings such as St Andrews, Durham , SOAS started a separate gang group, the 1994 group. The criteria for membership of either does not encompass meeting any measures of quality. It just happens that amongst certain ignorant employers and mumsnetters it has acquired a certain brand image which is why Durham and a couple of others have now defected from one gang to the other. If you want measures of the quality of universities look at, depending on what you are looking for, subject rankings, employment ratings, student satisfaction, research rankings, average UCAS points per candidate etc all available and used in various permutations in the various tables.

I have been to three RG / 1994 unis so I have no chip on my shoulder to indulge but membership of RG is not a measure of quality, nor having been involved in graduate recruitment and done the milk round do I believe that many employers regard it as such. Some may sift on certain universities they regard as a mark of quality in their students, I know of a law firm for instance that only consider those from Oxford/ Cambridge / LSE/ UCL/ Bristol and Durham but frankly some RG universities would be more unlikely to make that sort of list than some non RG universities. And of course at the end of the day it is whether students have the skills and experience employers require. All of my friends DCs and my older DDs peers are struggling to assemble CVs that make them employable regardless of which university they went to, including Oxbridge, very few emerge straight from uni into a career at the moment with the possible exception of would be accountants, and they always did recruit en masse.

As far as my DDs are concerned we looked at the subject tables and then went and visited and they tried / will try for the best regarded course that they liked and had a realistic chance of getting into.

TigerseyeMum Sat 15-Jun-13 18:37:16

If you play that kind of game you can never really win. For example, I know of one business where the CEO came from a specific Oxford college and so would only recruit applicants from that college.

No matter how much you try to tip it in your favour you can come unstuck.

I was also going to mention routes like NHS apprenticeships but have been beaten to it. At 17 I knew nothing about work opportunities, had I been able to work for a large employer and try different roles I may well have been able to identify what I really wanted to do and do a respected relevant qualification. In the end I did bland Degree X from average uni Y which got me nowhere.

I've been to uni 5 times since then, each time to hone my training further. If I'd known way back then I could have taken a shorter route.

Right now, unless kids really know what career they want and how to get there I'd recommend a few years out, working, then going in as a mature student if they even need a degree.

In the 90s, the hierarchy was 1. ancient 2. redbrick / civic 3. new (ie, the ex-polys). No mention of RG back then.

As it happens, I went to an RG university and got a not-particularly-useful arts degree. I then went down the road to the local new university, did a one-year postgraduate course and got a job. Again, this was the 1990s.

The difference between the two institutions was that the former took it for granted that its graduates - mostly from well-off backgrounds- would enter good careers in the traditional sense: law, accountancy, Civil Service, blue-chip companies and so on; relying on the Platonic view that its degree was evidence that its graduates could think well enough to succeed in their chosen career. The latter's approach was quite different: it was to train undergraduates for specific roles, e.g. nursing.

Some of my fellow RG graduates are now pretty wealthy and with very successful careers. Others scratched for jobs and had to retrain. My embittered view is that probably at some point just before I matriculated, an arts degree from an old university with a strong academic reputation ceased to be one's golden ticket for life.

Talkinpeace Sat 15-Jun-13 18:47:36

That is probably because the Russell Group was only established in May 1994

..ahh, thanks. I remember my alma mater becoming RG while I was there.

I'm allowed to use poncy terms like "alma mater" because I went to an RG university.

I went to Glasgow U and am only finding out now it's a RG (not that that means anything to me.). confused Fat lot of good it did me!

Don't see Strathclyde uni on that list and yet its Business School is internationally renowned so I don't think this mysterious RG accreditation can mean much.

In the past, simply getting into university meant you'd made it in life - because hardly anyone got in. You were the creme de la creme, and could walk into the graduate profession of your choice, having spent three years in stimulating idleness. There is an echo of this in the idea that RG universities are the best.

The truth is that now one is must chose one's career, and then decide which institution to attend (whether or not that involves a degree). The wealth of information available on the Internet makes that much easier to do: whether or not that leads to an RG university is besides the point.

williaminajetfighter Sat 15-Jun-13 19:14:39

olidus I wasn't saying that my knowledge or experience was better than anyone else, I was saying that because I'd worked in the sector I had heard and seen a lot about this topic. I do honestly think that recruiters for blue chip companies still do filter based on University. There are only so many criteria by which to filter 1000s of applications of people who haven't had very much job experience.

To your comment above: Look at the list of recruiters at say the London School of Business versus say, University of Bedfordshire
I doubt they'll publish their criteria around which universities they expect people to attend
Conflicting info. Not sure what you want me to look up?.

It's not conflicting information. I said look at which companies recruit or hire from these two institutions. Which is different than finding out the criteria by which they assess candidates.

This is a list of recruiters and companies employing LBS candidates is here:
Can't find the same for Bedfordshire but I'm sure this list could be compared against others.

I am starting to wonder why so many on MN are so uppity gets so darn chippy so fast.

Catypillar Sat 15-Jun-13 19:18:45

Doesn't matter in medicine (most places anyway- don't know about the big London hospitals etc)

I went to a non-RG university, have colleagues who went to a whole selection of RG (including Cambridge) and non-RG unis and we're all doing the same thing. I'd never heard of the Russell Group until after I graduated (graduated in 2005)... What doctors need to be able to do is standardised across the UK (although all unis have their own exams) so there's no advantage.

I teach at a non-RG medical school (not the one I went to) and was doing the exams recently, I'd written a clinical exam station which the external examiner from an RG medical school told me was too difficult for undergraduates- then she sat in on the exam and watched them do it fine. Hah.

olidusUrsus Sat 15-Jun-13 19:22:09

Sorry, don't understand the main body of your post. Maybe I am just stupid.

I still don't think it happens that often. You might get the occasional twat like the one mentioned up thread who only hired people from a certain college: you might get that upscaled where certain companies prefer certain university graduates, but on the whole, overall, I just don't believe it is common enough for the average prospective student to bother worrying about when they apply - there's just so much more they can do to further themselves.

My brain is feeling frazzled and I don't think I'm going to try to explain my views anymore. Have had a shit day so sorry iif I came across as hostile or uppity or whatever - not sure if your last sentence was directed to me or just general observation.

Backing out of thread now.

LittleprincessinGOLDrocks Sat 15-Jun-13 19:26:44

I didn't go to an RG Uni. I did however do a bit of research it to the field I wanted to go in to. I found that most of the local employers in that industry thought highly the Uni I went to.
So I think you need to know your area well, and look in to what your potential employers will be looking for in terms of university training.

lljkk Sat 15-Jun-13 19:28:03

Some stats here, showing that the rise has been slow & steady other than big post-92 jump. About half of the 40% or so who start are at ex-polys. Separating out expoly students to compare with the past, means only about 20% go to Uni, which means probably about 17% actually complete their degree from a pre '92 Uni. It's maybe 2.5x as much as 20 yrs ago, an increase but impressive how many still don't go, too.

mummytime Sat 15-Jun-13 19:40:14

For some careers you need a degree, where from can influence your career in lots of ways. If I had gone to any RG Uni other than the one I did, I would not have got a lot of the jobs I got after graduating, however going to a Poly would have been just as good. My DH wouldn't have had the career he has if he hadn't happened to do a specific 2nd year project, and it is still relevant to him today.
Some courses can only be done at certain no RG Unis. Some top employers sponsor students through degrees, and often not at RG Unis.

But I also once was interviewed by a company that only recruited from Oxford, Cambridge wasn't good enough.

Copthallresident Sat 15-Jun-13 20:45:51

William Quoting stats from LBS is a total red herring, you only get into LBS if you have potential in business (well in their terms) and many will already have already built up a CV of relevant skills. The MBA subject tables are very different to those of mainstream unis let alone the subject tables. Cranfield? One of the top Business Schools in the UK by any measure and arguably if you want practical skills the best. (My MBA not from Cranfield but at the time wished it was..........)

williaminajetfighter Sat 15-Jun-13 21:22:21

Yes Copt you're probably right. But first univ I could find that had good details about recruitment for that very reason. Some just don't publish the deets...

apostropheuse Sat 15-Jun-13 21:26:49

Sorry, Morgan's Mum, I was being facetious.

I think it goes without saying that St Andrew's is on a par with Oxford and Cambridge. smile

WhatICallAUsername Sat 15-Jun-13 22:01:48

FWIW Exeter was only made RG last year, so is not long standing. (Also v. good for MFL, TuTuTilly)

mathanxiety Sun 16-Jun-13 04:01:01

OlidusUrsus -- 'credible employers' is hard to define but large companies, international corporations, silk stocking law firms, The City -- all sift by university. This has been the case since the mid 80s at the very least (my experience is in Ireland).

Silk stocking law firms??

TheRealFellatio Sun 16-Jun-13 04:18:37

Choosing the right uni is very important. There is no point doing 'law' or something like that at an ex-polls and expect to actually be able to get a training contract.

Likewise you are often best placed going to an ex-polly for some of the 'newer' subjects as they often have better established, more respected courses with better links to industry

If you just want to do a general subject degree like English Lit or Economics of Geography and then go into a standard graduate job, I think you do need to go to a decent uni and get a 2:1.

I completely agree with that. When I was helping my son choose, I wrote every single uni out of a piece of paper, in the order in which they were ranked that year, and then drew lines to separate the top, middle and bottom thirds, and told him to concentrate on looking at the bottom of the top third or the very top of the bottom third, with maybe one 'long shot' thrown in for luck. I felt that based on his predicted results that was his safest bet of getting a nice bunch of offers from respected unis, rather than aiming too high or doing that herd thing of going 'must be RG, must be RG' and ending up with nothing, due to massive over subscription, and having to take someone completely shit at clearing.

He got a full set of five offers, which was a lovely position to be in. He only applied to one RG (which was not his optimistic 'long shot', funnily enough.) which he ended up turning down because it as not as well regarded for his course as other non-RGs on his offers list.

TheRealFellatio Sun 16-Jun-13 04:21:50

something shit at clearing, not someone!

TheRealFellatio Sun 16-Jun-13 04:22:55

Oh FFS. I don't mean the very top of the bottom third, I mean the very top of the middle third. Obviously! grin

mathanxiety Sun 16-Jun-13 04:23:34


'On average, the country’s leading employers have been actively marketing their 2013 graduate vacancies at twenty UK universities, using a variety of university careers fairs, campus recruitment presentations and online advertising...
...The ten universities most-often targeted by Britain’s top graduate employers in 2012-2013 are Warwick, Nottingham, Manchester, Cambridge, Bristol, Durham, Oxford, Birmingham, Bath and Leeds.'
(from 'Summary', p. 30)

On p. 27 you will see that of the top 25 universities targeted by employers, only Aston, Liverpool, Strathclyde, Loughborough and Bath are non-RG. That means 17 of the top 25 are RG universities. Of course, the 5 non-RG universities in the top 25 outstripped some RG universities for recruitment, but 17/25 is pretty impressive and in my books, a RG university would be a good bet for a student thinking ahead to paying off the loans.

lljkk Sun 16-Jun-13 07:53:02

Lots of scope to quibble about how "top employer" was defined.

An awful lot of people who work for Aldi & Lidl never went to Uni.
Terry Leahy himself was a self-confessed clown at school and "only" went to UMIST.

exoticfruits Sun 16-Jun-13 08:03:36

It also implies that a RG is a safe bet- it isn't. DS went to one with a science subject- it is tough when you come out and want a job. Even tougher if you did something like history. You are better served by researching the subject, the career you want and the best place to do it- rather than just assuming you can do your best subject at a RG university and all will be well.

marriedinwhiteagain Sun 16-Jun-13 08:08:27

It depends what you want to read at university and what you want to do afterwards.

If you want to be a lawyer and join a magic circle firm then yes you probably do need RG and probably a first or a 2:1; the same would go for the top accountancy firms/management consultants, blue chip graduate training schemes, etc. Firms in the first/second division probably take trainees from other uni's but would still, I think be looking for a 2:1 minimum.

If you want to do teaching, nursing, pharmacy, some aspects of engineering, etc., then I don't think it's so important and there are specialist courses at other universities or former polys that might be more appropriate.

There's also the 1992 Group I believe.

A lot depends on the person doesn't it; ds is very bright and definitely RG material (off to one in September) - dd is top average and a gentler soul and probably needs to look at something more vocational within a broader range of HE.

I didn't even go to uni (ancient) but I still pulled down £100k per annum in the mid 80's-mid 90's. DH went to a top RG uni and is very successful. We know lots of people who have been to top RG uni's and aren't successful at all.

Wherever you go I think you need to aim for a 2:1.

exoticfruits Sun 16-Jun-13 08:11:53

Less than a 2:1 at a RG isn't going to open doors. Getting the place is only the start.

iamadoozermum Sun 16-Jun-13 08:24:07

But mathsanxiety that report isn't particularly representative of HE as a whole. The top 100 companies surveyed were the top 100 companies identified by final year students based at 30 "leading" universities. So, these companies are the companies that students know about - probably from seeing them on campus? So there is a potential confound there. Those 100 companies will have around 17,000 graduate vacancies between them. However, in 2012 roughly 390,000 obtained a first degree (HESA), so where are the others going? So all we can say is that those employers known by students at leading universities tend to promote themselves at those universities.

Interestingly though, they compared the universities targeted by these companies with the Times Good University Guide rankings and found:

"In it [The Good Uni Guide] Oxford and Cambridge are ranked in 1st and 2nd place but Manchester, the third most-targeted university by the leading employers, fails to even make the top thirty in the guide. And by contrast, St Andrews and Lancaster which are ranked 6th and 12th respectively in the guide, do not appear in the employers’ top twenty universities."

TheRealFellatio interesting way to do it, but did you do this by subject or overall university? Where I work, the institution is in the bottom 20% in The Guardian table, but my subject is in the top 30% of all universities. We are also in the top 20 institutions for graduate employability and teaching quality in the Sunday Times Good University Guide, so it depends on what you concentrate on.

TheRealFellatio Sun 16-Jun-13 08:36:37

I did it initially by university alone, because I am aware that whatever your course, some people will always be biased (or indeed repelled) by the name or age of the establishment on your CV (as this thread shows) but then we narrowed it down based on reputation/effectiveness of the faculty and the course. Some of it was based on practicalities as well though, like location, distance from home, cost of rent etc.

It was a pretty traditional BA joint Hons in a fairly classic combination of subjects. He turned down Birmingham.

DeepRoots Sun 16-Jun-13 08:51:59

It definitely depends what you want to do. Reading University now rated in top 10% worldwide and they are first class for such things as teacher training. University of surrey is excellent for science and engineering type degrees but neither are Russell group listed.

I was told by my sixth form, a long long time ago admittedly, that I was better going to an established teacher training college affiliated to a uni . That still seems to be true for OT, physiotherapy courses and Bed type degrees - think St John's in York, Winchester etc.

I also agree that a 2:1 gets you noticed. A friend's children who have applied and gone to uni the last couple of years from a top sixth form college, were pretty much told RG for English, History etc degrees unless the course has a proper job at the end of it and is well regarded for research in the industry.

I think you really have to think carefully about university as an option now because times have changed and its an expensive waste of time unless you are clear what you want.

cory Sun 16-Jun-13 09:08:24

Taking that 17/25 statistic mathanxiety quoted, it would seem (if you are going for the kind of job investigated) a good reason to reject a non-RG university if you had to draw them out of a hat and couldn't know anything else about the individual institutions.

But seeing that we can know something about them, it would seem a very poor reason for rejecting e.g. Loughborough. We don't need to work out the statistical chances of Loughborough being on the list when we already know it is on the list.

And again, it would seem a very odd reason for choosing an RG university that wasn't not on the list because statistically there would be a high likelihood of its being on the list.

It's the individual names of the list that matter, not the statistics.

I can sit here and work out the statistical chances of my garden being covered in snow at this particular date in June. But then again, I can look out of the window...

Or, in the case of a university, check where that particular institution is in the league tables, including student satisfaction, employment etc.

Lazyjaney Sun 16-Jun-13 09:33:17

Just look at the average UCAS scores per university or subject, that will tell you the calibre of the kids going in. Some RG are very good, some less so. Ditto some not RG.

And just to increase the hand wringing, it's always interesting to compare international vs British league tables smile

mathanxiety Sun 16-Jun-13 17:16:30

It's not a matter of employers promoting themselves around a campus, as if the students were in a position to pick one to work for. It's a matter of companies able to pick and choose and only choosing certain campuses on which to recruit their future employees, with a huge amount of competition among potential employees for precious jobs.

This is not to say that graduates from other universities don't have a hope of being employed by those companies, or that other companies wouldn't offer the chance at a great career, but the path into that great career isn't as straightforward for graduates in a university where they don't get the chance to interview on campus but have to send an unsolicited CV instead.

When the DCs were applying to universities (in the US) their system was to have two that would be real reaches, two or more that would be a good match for their grades and a safety that they were sure of getting into, with a total of six or seven applications. Their plans upon getting in were to do degrees in subjects that were heavy on maths and/or science. I subscribe to this opinion -- I also agree that a 2:1 gets you noticed. A friend's children who have applied and gone to uni the last couple of years from a top sixth form college, were pretty much told RG for English, History etc degrees unless the course has a proper job at the end of it and is well regarded for research in the industry. I think you really have to think carefully about university as an option now because times have changed and its an expensive waste of time unless you are clear what you want.

mathanxiety Sun 16-Jun-13 17:19:23

Another factor in what graduate gets the job is whether that person has ever had a job before. Many employers shy away from taking on a 21 or 22 year old and paying them a decent salary if they have rough edges to chip off. 'Works well with others' always goes down well.

piprabbit Sun 16-Jun-13 17:21:59

RG Universities have clubbed together to form a brand which can be marketed as being superior <adopts husky voice "This isn't just any university, this is an RG university">.

They aren't necessarily better than other universities, and for certain subjects are not the best places to study.

You can buy into their self-promoting hype or you can do some proper research to find the university that provides the best fit for an individual student.

Talkinpeace Sun 16-Jun-13 18:03:17

The Russell Group
Only on Mumsnet is there an impression that it is about admissions and kudos.

The Russell Group is a selection of research focussed universities who banded together to fight 1990's Tory cuts in PhD funding.
Because they were Research oriented they happened to be more rigorous.
Some of the highly rigorous non research unis clearly never got involved.

Then eejits in government started using RG as shorthand for "good" when it does not, never has and never will mean that.

For certain research based subjects, and RG Uni is all there really is - for other stuff its irrelevant.

But RG is about postgrads not undergrads.

StripeyYogurt Sun 16-Jun-13 18:10:08

I could have gone to a RG uni but opted for a non RG uni.

BOF Sun 16-Jun-13 18:10:52

Absolutely. But there are some dimwits who just see it as a byword for "good", and brag about having attended one, even if it was before the Russell Group existed. It's pure poncerama.

Talkinpeace Sun 16-Jun-13 18:14:49

I was at Uni in the 80's : there was no RG then. The fact that my Uni VC was at the meeting has no impact on my degree.
RG is lazy short hand for eejits (like Gove and Wilshaw)

CocktailQueen Sun 16-Jun-13 18:26:48

Huh! I went to St Andrews and would have thought it would be on this list, but it's not! <miffed>

Talkinpeace Sun 16-Jun-13 18:29:24

St Andrews wont be, ever.
Its an undergrad focussed Uni, not a postgrad research uni.
That is the point that the politicians and media miss

CocktailQueen Sun 16-Jun-13 18:31:04

Fairy muff, Talk! Thanks.

mathanxiety Sun 16-Jun-13 18:53:51

No 'RG' but there was 'red brick' and Oxbridge, and then there were all The Rest. This is from an Irish perspective.

treaclesoda Sun 16-Jun-13 18:56:58

I went to one of the universities on that list. No employer has ever given a damn. In fact, no employer has ever given a damn about my education at all. All they've cared about has been experience, and that's been almost impossible to get, unless you want to apply for a job that is almost identical to the one you're trying to leave. hmm

lljkk Sun 16-Jun-13 19:16:53

Thing is I worked at 2 non-RGs (mentioned with praise here smile ), and socialised & lived even with loads & loads of postgrads. I doubt RG has much monopoly on them, either.

Talkinpeace Sun 16-Jun-13 19:19:59

RG was an accident of circumstance : maybe some VCs got stuck in the traffic so were not there. It is the lazy meejah and ferkwit politicians that have given it the false kudos that became self perpetuating.
The Ivy League after all started out as a sports competition ....

badbride Sun 16-Jun-13 19:30:37

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Talkinpeace Sun 16-Jun-13 19:32:52

Sports mad : Loughborough
Has solder burns on fingers : Southampton, UMIST, Cardiff

badbride Sun 16-Jun-13 19:37:34

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

lljkk Sun 16-Jun-13 19:37:37

... I've been trying to get some non-existent stats. The RG group brag that they pull in 72% of all research & contract income (£3.2 billion, £133 million each). Delving into figures, Cambridge Uni had about £283 million of that, Oxford a mere group average of £133 million. I wonder how variable others are? Still, puts my employers in the shade (£30-£41 million ish). Exeter is a mere £46m/annum and they were invited in to the RG club.

So that's it, really, just have to pay one's way in, I guess.

I can't get any figures about how many PhDs in RG vs. non RG.

badbride Sun 16-Jun-13 19:52:26

On a more serious note (in case anyone is in doubt, my previous posts were lighthearted/ intended as jokes, please no-one get offended), it is worth checking out the strengths and weaknesses of any uni your DCs want to apply to, regardless of their grouping. Some have excellent reputations for some subjects, and are weaker in others.

Another thing to consider is the choice of subject. Some employers prefer degrees in traditional subjects such as history or physics, rather than law or media studies.

Hulababy Sun 16-Jun-13 20:03:17

I didn't go to one - just went to an ex poly. Still have a 2:1 and have never struggled to get teaching posts.

Dh turned a RG one down and went to read law, again at an ex poly. Now a senior partner at a law firm and earning very good money. RG friends earning less, even those in same profession.

Brother got a first from a non RG uni - still doing exceptionally well and earning good money.

Sister did go to a RG uni, but didn't ever refer to it as such at the time - we probably didn't ever realise til more recently as not something anyone ever focused on round here. Did very well, now practising law. Unlikely to become a senior partner, etc as , though presumably a good lawyer and being well thought of where she is, she is not as professionally driven as DH and has differnrt priorities.

I will just support DD is whatever she wants to do, wherever that is.

Sleepyhoglet Sun 16-Jun-13 21:37:44

Not so relevant for undergrad, but would consider one of these for masters or Ph.D study.

ephemeralfairy Sun 16-Jun-13 21:44:59

In my opinion (and experience; both mine and my friends) an academic degree (especially in an Arts subject) from an RG uni is worth less in terms of employability than a degree from a 'lesser' uni with strong industry links, opportunities for professional placements etc etc.

EleanorFarjeon Sun 16-Jun-13 21:45:11

I went to one - totally irrelevant to my career which I trained post grad for.

ephemeralfairy Sun 16-Jun-13 21:48:38

I went to Glasgow Uni initially (which is RG), was thoroughly miserable, dropped out, went to drama school to study drama education and community theatre , loved it but graduated into an environment where funding for community arts projects was practically non-existent. To cut a long story short I'm now having to do a Masters to get into the career I want.....

Habbibu Sun 16-Jun-13 23:00:52

Talkinpeace, St A is not, to my mind, an undergrad focused institution; it's small, sure, but competes for its postgrads with other leading universities, and has a very high per capita res income. It is too small in res volume to be RG but that does not mean it's not research focussed.

Habbibu Sun 16-Jun-13 23:08:47

That said, I agree with your take on the RG in general.

plinkyplonks Mon 17-Jun-13 00:38:53

2:2 from non RG uni, had call centre job.. helped me get the 45k plus job I have now.

My brother.
Non RG, is an accountant, went straight from Uni into one of the big four.
From there went to one that isn't (but huge company), now back with one, in a different country.

That said, I will only encourage DD to Uni if there's a point to it, not just for the sake of going.

IfIonlyhadsomesleep Mon 17-Jun-13 07:06:21

Surely if it were almost completely undergraduated focused St. Andrews would be a boarding school for adults?

RussiansOnTheSpree Mon 17-Jun-13 08:01:47

williamina In fact, one of the best places to do English is UEA. Which remains not an RG university.

For those mentioning Big 4 Firms - one of the most successful unis other than Oxbridge for getting training contracts has long been Exeter. Which, yes, is now RG having paid something like half a million pounds to be let in. But the Big 4 situation won't be impacted by that at all (except possibly some might look a bit hmm at the decision makers for wasting so much money on a bit of vanity tagging. Nobody ever really believed that eg Cardiff, Newcastle or Sheffield was a 'better' university than Durham, UEA, Exeter or St Andrews (although St Andrews has a bit of a reputation grounded in snobbishness rather than excellence). Most recruiters know the difference between good universities and membership of a vanity tagging scheme. The correlation between RG and 'Good' is very high - but it's not the RG tag that makes the universities good. And the RG tag can't make less good institutions good no matter what they or MN choose to believe.

wordfactory Mon 17-Jun-13 08:36:44

The Russell Group have done a a very good PR job on themselves. Hats off to them for that wink.

That said, it doesn't mean that some of the RG universitiesaren't the most selective and best regarded.

It seems to me that unless my DC wanted to do somehting very specific that was better catered for elsehwere, they may as well attend one of the better regarded universities. I mean why not? Why make life even harder on graduation?

DoctorRobert Mon 17-Jun-13 08:47:22

I got a 2:1 from a RG university.

I then spent about 10 years working in a call centre before becoming a SAHM.

There are so many factors that dictate what you end up doing in life, I wouldn't worry about RG universities

LaQueen Mon 17-Jun-13 08:53:40

Depends very much on the course you want to take. Some RG universities don't have such impressive links to industry/commerce as some of the better ex-polys do.

And, some of the ex-polys like Manchester/Trent etc require better A Level grades, and are actually stronger than some traditional universities

DH could have gone to Oxford, but opted for Nottingham instead, which yes was a RG university, but its computer science course was far superior at the time.

I do know that when the time comes for our DDs to go to university, DH and I won't be happy with them taking some vague humanities degree which won't really lead anywhere, even if it's at a RG university.

It's a bit unfair, considering I did English Literature, but times have changed so much.

RussiansOnTheSpree Mon 17-Jun-13 08:55:34

word With mumsnet. With employers? Not so much. I agree with you that the 'best' regarded universities (taken in the round) are members of the RG but there are more than a few RG members who are not in the intersect between the 'best' and 'members of RG' circles in the Big Venn Diagram of Life. And there are a few universities who are in the 'best' circle outside that intersect.

For the poster above who said it was 'Oxbridge' 'red brick' and 'the rest' - actually, it's Cambridge and the rest. grin But shhh because some people get a bit upset about that wink

The fact is, as has been pointed out above, RG was established for perfectly sensible reasons at the time. It subsequently became an exercise in vanity tagging which doesn't fool most people but apparently a large proportion of those it does fool are on MN. It's become an exercise in trying to pretend that you're at 'sort of Oxbridge' too. S, we get people saying they went to an RG university or their kids are at an RG university as though that means something. Yet strangely - most people who went to Imperial or whose kids are there say 'Imperial'. Which, I think, speaks volumes. The people at the really good unis aren't afraid to name them.

I didn't go to a RG uni. In fact the uni I went to is pretty much in bottom 10% of uni's in the league tables.

But I am Head of Dept in a RG uni and virtually all my staff are RG grads smile


NicknameTaken Mon 17-Jun-13 10:47:34

Durham and York became RG members in 2012 (along with two others). So was a degree there pointless in 2011 and magic in 2013? Course not.

FreedomOfTheTess Mon 17-Jun-13 10:49:41

Well I didn't go to a Russell Group university and I'm doing alright for myself.

By contract, I have a couple of friends who went to RG universities, and neither has set the working world alight like they assumed they would.

I work for a RG university. It's mainly to do with research rather than teaching. The important thing is to do your research and investigate the area you are interested in. Oxford is a world class university but not so good if you want to do marine biology. It doesn't offer it. Every Uni has its strengths and weaknesses in every subject area. Obviously a good research base feeds into the education of the students but there are some great universities that aren't RG. Durham for example, had long since been considered the the third Oxbridge, has only just become a Russell group member.

I turned down my firm, RG uni, on results day for the one I now go to. Very glad I did. No idea what the future holds for me jobwise, but I would be just as worried (which isn't hugely much) about jobhunting after graduation if I'd gone to the other one. I don't do anything "competitive" like law either.

To be honest, I just want to get a good degree!

I turned down places in two RG unis and went to a non-RG one because the course there was more attractive to me. Doesn't been to have hurt my prospects - 10 years continuous employment in management positions and steadily climbing the proverbial career ladder.

I'm not sure any employer ever actually cared which uni I went to actually, as long as I was qualified and had the right skill set...

amazingmumof6 Mon 17-Jun-13 16:35:36

what does Russel Group mean?

sorry, I didn't go to Uni in this country and have been meaning to ask...

guineapiglet Mon 17-Jun-13 18:00:32

There is so much conflicting advice about this its a nightmare. My husband and I talk about this all the time as our daughter is just starting A levels and thinking about different courses. He is a senior academic at at an RG university, but his view is that kids should apply to the place with the best course rating - there are many good non RG universities outperforming RG universities in some courses and to whom employers are more attracted. Some of the former Polys had much better reputations and employability outcomes than some of the RG universities, Manchester Met, Univ of Hertfordshire, Sheffield Hallam to name a few. These polys had brilliant sandwich course schemes and exceptional links with local businesses and employers, and to a large extent some Unis have spent time catching up with them.

Check the courses first - that should be the first port of call.

morethanpotatoprints Mon 17-Jun-13 18:16:54

I think it depends on what you want to do in life tbh.
A lot of people would find the jobs that these unis tend to attract as dead boring. I know I would. Not everybody wants to be a grey accountant or solicitor, barrister or doctor.
Some new unis/ old polys specialise in subjects you just wouldn't find at a RG uni.
An example would be nursing and midwifery, the best courses being offered in the NW at a well respected uni/ ex poly for these subjects.

SleepyCatOnTheMat Mon 17-Jun-13 18:35:08

I went to a Russell Group university for my undergraduate degree then did a postgraduate course with the Open University. I found the OU much better - more support, more guidance, vastly improved online access to journals (and from home too; made writing assignments much easier).

shufflehopstep Mon 17-Jun-13 18:55:15

I'd also never heard of RG before joining mumsnet. My uni was an ex-poly in the NW and I have met loads of people who went to the same uni as me in all walks of life as it has a pretty good reputation. Anyway, unless the course you're doing is vocational, I think there's not a lot of point going anyway. I'd definitely do things differently if I had my time again.

MoreBeta Mon 17-Jun-13 18:55:56

To get into certain jobs at the top firms (eg accounting, law, banking) you have to go to a RG university and you have to get a 2:1. Same with certain professions like medicine, vetinary science.

You won't even get an interview if you dont have RG and a 2:1. In fact, even within the RG there is an upper layer. Some City firms will only interview at Oxford, Cambridge, London and maybe Durham. They may consider an outstanding candidate from another RG university but they dont do a 'milk round' there and you have to take the initiative.

Outside of those firms and professions then obviously it matters less but if you are doing a traditional subject and want to enter one of those professions you need to go to a top RG. Obvioulsy that closes off those profesisons to people that can't get the required A Level grades but that is life.

guineapiglet - I agree with your DH that doing a degree course at a former poly which is widely regarded by recruiters in is better than doing a mediocre course in that same subject at a RG university.

nenevomito Mon 17-Jun-13 18:57:17

The only advice anyone needs when looking at which university to go to is...

1. Does it do the course you want?
2. Is it well regarded for the course you want to do?
3. What is the employability for students from that course at that university. (DLHE stats show this).
4. Is the university somewhere you want to live or close to home if you need to keep costs down?

If the answer to these is yes, then that is more important than whether or not its a RG x a million!

MoreBeta Mon 17-Jun-13 18:58:56

NicknameTaken - the fact that York and Durham decided to join RG rather points to the fact that they want to differentiate themselves from The Post 1992 universities (ie mostly the former polys).

RussiansOnTheSpree Mon 17-Jun-13 19:03:15

MoreBeta That is certainly not true regarding Accounting. It may be true regarding law. But even then I do not believe that any of the magic circle would dismiss a St Andrews grad out of hand if that person had a first, say, and decent A levels.

Talkinpeace Mon 17-Jun-13 19:10:24

Speaking as an accountant who got a third from before the RG existed

the RG sure as heck have done a good job of persuading people how important they are.

MoreBeta Mon 17-Jun-13 19:10:32

Yes a grad from St Andrews would certainly be looked at if they had a First but St Andrews woudl not be on the 'milk round'.

Fillyjonk75 Mon 17-Jun-13 19:15:13

I went to an ex poly which languishes towards the bottom of the league tables (in spite of actually getting pretty good grades at A Level though just missing my first choice by one grade) and managed to get a training contract in a city law firm- eventually, after reams and reams of applications, two years working as a paralegal and working part time in an investment bank while taking a gamble taking out a further loan to do the LPC. I got the tc half way through the LPC and the firm amaing agreed to pay the fees (so therefore pay off the loan) retrospectively so I was very lucky with that, though I worked damned hard to get it. I think the firm thought if I could work that hard to actually get a job I'd be a hard worker once I got there.

With something vocational like Law surely a 2:1 should be a 2:1 - You have to study certain core subjects for it to be a qualifying law degree - and arguably ex polys are better at delivering vocational subjects being as they were set up for that purpose. Plus I did French as well which meant I had twice as many lectures and classes as someone doing single honours law.

I would say (to make the path into the job you want easier) try to go to the university that has a reputation of being good for the subject you want to study. If I had done fine art, ceramics or design at the university I went to I would have had a positive advantage in getting a job in those subjects as the university was well regarded there. But if you go to a university that isn't as well regarded, it doesn't necessarily mean the teaching will be poor - I didn't think mine was, and we had excellent brand new resources. And it doesn't necessarily mean you won't get the job you want, it will probably mean you won't walk straight into it (but who does anyway) and you will have to build up some years of experience first.

I think my university is actually affecting me getting jobs now though after a career break as law firms are always interested in education no matter how many years experience you have. Especially in the current market when they can be picky.

gimmeanaxe Mon 17-Jun-13 19:36:02

I think personality plays a part. One of mine has just finished at Cambridge and is expected to get one of those double first things. She does not have a job. She is still poncing around with her friends making arty films. Another has finished his second year at an ex-poly. He went to a jobs fair last thursday and was offered a job on a the spot due to his enthusiasm about, of all things, statistics (yep, the dept of Govt statistics) with a great starting salary. He starts next July. I'm still open mouthed to be honest.
And its down to drive and enthusiasm. He'll do that for a bit then he's planning a PhD. Meanwhile I expect arty child will still be writing bad poetry in Notting Hill with Trustafarians <rolls eyes>
It had bugger all to do with the university and everything to do with their differing drives and enthusiasm for work.

No it is all nonsense really.

My old university sometimes gets ranked above some RG universities, sometimes it doesn't. What does it actually mean to go to a RG university if they aren't consistently better than all the rest which clearly they aren't. It is just another thing to be snobby about.

Plenty of my university friends have very good jobs in senior positions, even some of those with a lowly 2.2. It really doesn't make that much difference for most jobs and employers. Granted if you wanted to do something high flying in the city it might make life easier but most of don't want to do that anyway.

Yellowtip Mon 17-Jun-13 20:07:18

gimme the Dept of Govt Statistics offers a 'great starting salary'? shock.

How will the DD with no job afford to live in Notting Hill to write her bad poetry?

VenusStarr Mon 17-Jun-13 20:07:33

Huh, turns out my university is a Russell Group...hated every minute.

Yellowtip Mon 17-Jun-13 20:11:18

Also tbf to the arty DD it seems a lot of arty DDs and DSs are poncing around with excellent predicted degrees from those sort of unis with no job to go to quite yet. It's not very welcoming out there....

Tweet2tweet Mon 17-Jun-13 20:12:48

I got very good a'levels but went to an ex-poly. Didn't know about the RG at the time. I have worked for one of the top 5 companies and was interviewed for various very large, competitive companies upon graduating.

However I now work in an environment with academics and interact with RG institutions. They are extremely snobby about it. To the point that some dismiss me when they find out I went to a 'post 1990's' university. A load of crap, I'm more qualified and experienced than most of them but they look down because of that!

Romann Mon 17-Jun-13 20:18:59

It's clearly not the only thing, but having a famous uni on your CV will open doors. I went to Oxford, and through the final year we were wined and dined by companies trying to hire us. I also had a brilliant time, great one-on-one teaching from leading experts in the field, and made fantastic friends. I will be thrilled if my dcs do the same, if they can, and want to. More of the successful Brits I meet professionally have been to Oxbridge than not: it's a club for life.

None of that means you can't be very successful in many other ways, and Oxford won't be the place for everyone, but it's likely to be an asset. I doubt the other RG unis all offer the same advantages.

Copthallresident Mon 17-Jun-13 20:31:55

MoreBeta I'm sorry but the recruitment strategy you describe would be a very blunt instrument and I think you will find that any company with a well managed graduate recruitment programme would have developed a far more effective means of making sure they get the best and brightest graduates. For sure some companies will zero in on the very top of the RG/ 1994 groups (he latter not being former polys but smaller universities like Royal Holloway and SOAS) but the big 4 accounting firms cast their net a lot wider. With three of the ten best universities in the subject tables for Economics for instance being universities that were always universities but are neither RG or 1994 group (Kent, Dundee, Surrey)and a fourth being a former poly
(Heriott Watt) why would they do themselves out of a chance to fish in those pools of talent? Especially since several RG members don't even make it into the top 40.

And students don't need just a 2.1, they need to be able to provide evidence that they have skills and experience, through internships, work experience, voluntary activities etc. Most graduates now face spending years building up CVs that make them marketable. Most graduate recruiters are now upfront that time spent after university on building up relevant experience will strengthen your application rather than detract from it,as it has become the norm.

gimmeanaxe Mon 17-Jun-13 20:41:51

yellowtip - its 24K which to me is great as its what his dad earns after 30 frigging years of work! Arty dd lives with her boyfriend in his flat what his parents bought him. Possibly the only advantage of Cambridge wink

LittleFrieda Mon 17-Jun-13 20:43:20

Against what measure are Kent, DUndee and Surrey the top three of the economics league table? grin I would have said LSE, Cambridge, Oxford then Warwick

Dozer Mon 17-Jun-13 20:44:20

Gimme, surely government departments can't (and shouldn't) offer permanent £24k jobs on-the-spot? It wouldn't be fair, open competition.

Copthallresident Mon 17-Jun-13 20:44:45

Romann Not one of my DD'S peers graduating from Oxbridge have a job or internship lined up, and there is likely to be a sprinkling of firsts, and several have outstanding interpersonal skills and would make outstanding managers. They've done the milk round which I am sure most would have found jobs through when I was involved with it in the 90s but not a sniff. My friend's DD who is incredibly bright and charismatic with a 2.1 from Oxford in English has just finally landed a job in broadcast journalism after five years of slogging away at internships, reading the news on the twilight shift on local radio for nothing, blogging etc. and doing the Masters that really counts (also not a RG/ 1994 smile) Without a doubt there was a time she would have marched into the BBC ...

It is really a cold hard world out there........

I was just wondering if you could tell me how you know what your Uni is 'respected' for?

I have just finished 1st year. I chose Birmingham as I didn't want to move (DH & DC to up-root) and it was the only RG one that I could get to realistically. I wanted RG as I thought they were better for research - I would like to stay on and research myself so thought that would be handy smile

How do I know what it is known for? grin

Southeastdweller Mon 17-Jun-13 20:48:13

here's an interesting article in the Telegraph from last week about the importance of work experience for graduates these days.

gimmeanaxe Mon 17-Jun-13 20:48:59

Course its fair, they were interviewing a fair few. He isnt planning on staying but I made the point because its all about getting out there, not the university you went too. And how you present yourself. I predict he will do much better for himself than the rest of my kids even though they are at so-called better universities. And better than DH who went to RG uni's. He has drive that one.

Oubliette0292 Mon 17-Jun-13 20:53:12

The university you choose can make a huge difference to your opportunities for years to come. I graduated 15 years ago, and the fact that I went to Oxford still opens doors even now.

Copthallresident Mon 17-Jun-13 20:54:39

Little Frieda "With three of the ten best universities" You wouldn't be passing the verbal comprehension test used to sift by employers these days wink For info, would link but bloody BT seem to be fouling up our bandwidth at the mo and can't reopen the link it goes Oxford, LSE, Durham, Warwick, Cambridge, Kent, Dundee, Surrey, UCL, Edinburgh, Heriott Watt... Interestingly on career after 6 months it goes LSE (92%)Warwick (86%) Cambridge (84%) Exeter (83%) Durham (82%) UCL (80%) Bristol (80%) Kent (75%) Edinburgh (74%) Leeds (70% ) Oxford (67%)

RussiansOnTheSpree Mon 17-Jun-13 20:55:24

Morebeta Exeter was on the milk round before it joined the RG last year. As was York. Several RG unis wouldn't be considered ordinarily, though. Some of them are more equal than others.

Spero Mon 17-Jun-13 21:29:33

I can only speak for law but to say 'a 2:1 is a 2:1' is just naive. When I helped with pupilage applications for chambers we would routinely get 300 plus applications for one place. We had to sift. A 2:1, even a first, from certain institutions just wouldn't be taken seriously.

The university you chose does indeed make a huge difference to your recruitment prospects in years to come but it isn't as simple as it may appear. Not all the top 20 in this listthis list for example, are RG universities. Considering their international reputation and standing on other criteria, Oxford and Cambridge are a bit off the mark as far as prospects go. There are similar results for student satisfaction too.

What sets the RG universities apart from the others and bumps them up the league tables, it seems to me, is their research standing but unless you are going to be an academic, why would that matter much?

I agree with the notion that you do the best course in your subject no matter where it is because it usually means the teaching is good. You shouldn't pick the university you can get into, but the best university for your subject.

Chunderella Mon 17-Jun-13 21:42:05

Yeah the institution makes is a huge deal for the Bar these days. There are lots of currently successful barristers who didn't go to a top university, but they usually graduated quite some time ago.

skibeck32 Mon 17-Jun-13 21:44:22

Another with BigFour experience here and the recruitment pool is definitely much wider than the RG universities. I would say that going to a "good" university is recommended however, it definitely does not have to be RG. Don't forget that large companies are looking for candidates who can provide demonstrable evidence of competencies and skillsets that a university name alone will not provide. For example, a large number of my colleagues have come from Loughborough (strong academically but also sterotypically sporty - team players, dedicated, willing to put in effort) and Bath (excellent business school but also with sandwich courses that include a year working in industry with companies like - the BigFour, Reuters, the Treasury and major banks). Don't forget that going to university is so much more than coming out with a certificate from xyz university.

junkfoodaddict Mon 17-Jun-13 21:47:40

Never took RG universities into account when applying. It was the course that fitted the purpose that mattered first and foremost. Having said that, I ended up going to a university NOT in the list but gained my degree from one of them!?!? Got a 2:2 and been successfully employed for the past 13 years.
Do I give a shit about which uni I went to? Er, no!

LongGoneBeforeDaylight Mon 17-Jun-13 21:51:59

Depends what you want to do. Surely it does help if you want to be a city lawyer or some such.

Boomba Mon 17-Jun-13 21:59:41

i have been in the world of work for 24 years, in 3 different professions. NEVER, until I came on MN 2 years ago, have I even heard reference to whether someone went to a RG university or not...

maybe it matters in London???

Boomba Mon 17-Jun-13 22:01:49

Just checked the list, and I went to one!! WHo knew?! blush

Mumzy Mon 17-Jun-13 22:02:22

The promotion of polys to university status seems to have done most of them a disservice. Before polys were respected institutions which performed a different function from universities offering mainly vocational courses or sandwich degree courses. Several of my friends opted for polys over unis even though they could have chosen the latter because they offered degrees with excellent industrial placements and they have since gone on to carve out lucrative careers. Now they are seen as second tier compared to RG universities and also viewed with suspicion by employers. In 80s if you went to a university most employers were fine about all of them because the quality of courses and degrees were very much of a muchness. DH who works in the city says some investment banks will only recruit from certain Oxbridge colleges

amothersplaceisinthewrong Mon 17-Jun-13 22:10:50

Agree with you Mumzy. Polys should not have been changed into "new" universities.

I would think twice about telling a kid of mine to take on a 27K debt to get a BA in Catering from Thames Valley University though.

Mumzy Mon 17-Jun-13 22:22:50

However Derby University (Derby Poly as it was) has one of the best mechanical engineering departments in UK with lots of collaboration with industry

AgnesBligg Mon 17-Jun-13 22:36:03

Oh my goodness, I read about RG universities on here and actually thought they some kind of 'branded' university called Russell Group University. Well well.

Talkinpeace Mon 17-Jun-13 22:37:46

How would you have known?
THe RG was not thought up till 1994

AgnesBligg Mon 17-Jun-13 22:38:42

And and. Who the hell is Russell anyways? and what's his 'group' for exactly?

BeckAndCall Mon 17-Jun-13 22:38:56

This whole 'checking the list to see if you went to an RG uni' is.crap fro anyone of us over 40 - the RG only formed in 1994 so it was irrelevant for anyone who graduated before that!

Sorry I haven't read the whole thread, but just in case anyone else is coming late - the Russell group was formed in a meeting in 1994 between the Vice ChAncellors of a self selecting group of research intensive pre1992 universities ( a statutory distinction) funded by the then UFC to serve their own interests as a lobby group for maintaining the level of interest in blue sky research. It is called the Russell grouo because the meeting took place at the Russell hotel in London. You had to not only be invited but also to turn up to be in it.

It has since become something of a shorthand proxy fro 'good' outside the university world, but it's not a shorthand that works for everything.

Boomba Mon 17-Jun-13 22:46:00

ah well, there you go then!

mathanxiety Tue 18-Jun-13 05:50:52

Copthallresident, most companies that operate the way MoreBeta describes have spent a lot of time honing their approach and have found it gives them exactly what they want.

Employers are highly selective because they can be (it is indeed a cold, hard world out there) and it doesn't matter whether a finer toothed comb would yield slightly better results for them -- what they are doing now nets a perfectly good outcome. Same goes for the merits or otherwise of a 2:1 -- the subtleties are lost on employers. If you don't have one you can chuck your hat at the concept of a career track upon graduation, with predictable progression. Companies don't want the thousands and thousands of CVs that would result from applicants being required to show their attributes, previous experience, etc. Part of what they are doing is cutting HR costs by limiting the number of CVs they have to get through.

Getting on a career path with predictable progression right out of university is very important for anyone planning to have any sort of family life while they are still young enough to have children. Maybe this would affect women more than men but depends on the individual and their take on partnership within the family I suppose.

When it comes to getting a job before graduating (recruitment via the milk round) an applicant needs to have the minimum 2:1 from a very selective university, plus relevant degree, plus solid job experience (not necessarily housekeeping part time in a hotel - evidence of unsupervised and responsible position preferred).

I agree with MoreBeta here wrt the milk round -- deny it if you like but it exists and it follows the US model -- and the fact that some RGs are more equal than others. (I agree with Spero here too).

Research standing matters because of the assumption that an undergrad is exposed to the cutting edge of knowledge in any given field and is therefore better than an undergrad in a university with a more sleepy research profile. It doesn't just matter to those intending to have an academic career.

lljkk Tue 18-Jun-13 06:43:51

Anyone feel up to the task of naming who the "top employers" are?
In one of the links provided earlier the top employers included employers who I know recruit from the nonRG uni where I work (not on the highflyers list either).
Must be a better list of "top employers".
Leaving aside the fact that 70%? of employment in UK is provided by SMEs.

lainiekazan Tue 18-Jun-13 07:05:47

Also the course offered at, say, Southampton Solent, may be superior in every way to the one at Bristol. But - surely one wants to consort with students of a similar academic ability to oneself? There may be one or two students out there interested in the academic experience and not just the milk round!

Boomba Tue 18-Jun-13 07:09:35

What's the milk round?

exoticfruits Tue 18-Jun-13 07:18:59

The milk round is when companies go round universities recruiting. It is nothing like it used to be. I think that many people on here have no understanding whatsoever of the graduate unemployment problem. They appear to think that you can go to a RG university, with a traditional subject, get at least a 2:1 and it will get you a job- and not that you will be serving coffee and working on the shop floor in M & S, which is the reality, as they continue the search. ( unless lucky)
The position is very, very different from what it was even 10 years ago.

Porka Tue 18-Jun-13 07:19:44

I work in an organisation where we take on a number of graduate trainees each year; they work towards professional qualifications and places are sought after.

The recruitment process is highly competitive but no-one gives a stuff which university someone graduated from. The initial sift is done by online tests, not by looking at a CV.

IMO the most able trainee in my office was one from a very ordinary university though we had a couple from RG and one from Cambridge. Frankly in the world of work the university attended is pretty indistinguishable.

exoticfruits Tue 18-Jun-13 07:22:36

I can't stress how highly competitive the recruitment process is- there are likely to be at least 60 competing for one job and generally treble figures.

Boomba Tue 18-Jun-13 07:40:03

exoric but is RG uni a factor in selection? Not IME

RussiansOnTheSpree Tue 18-Jun-13 07:40:48

Math But Morebeta is comletely wrong about the Big 4.

Boomba Tue 18-Jun-13 07:42:30

I've always worked in science/engineering though

Is it more relevant in careers where more schmoozing goes on?

RussiansOnTheSpree Tue 18-Jun-13 07:47:33

Boomba There are definitely universities which are better regarded than others, but as I said upthread, this varies by subject and the set of 'better universities' and 'members of the RG' while it does have an intersect is certainly not identical.

exoticfruits Tue 18-Jun-13 07:51:46

Sorry Boomba- I covered that earlier. It depends on your subject and chosen career. DS1 went to a RG and I can't say it was a factor. DS3 couldn't have chosen a RG university- he chose the best for his subject.
They need to do a terrific amount of homework- it is all a available. Simply thinking RG must be best is a huge mistake- it might be best, it might not.

Boomba Tue 18-Jun-13 07:58:31

That makes sense

MarilynMoanroe Tue 18-Jun-13 08:01:46

My dh didn't go to university as he was in foster care and had other more pressing issues.

He is currently contracting, but previously was head of his department at a previous role.

He gets head hunted for roles frequently.

Lazyjaney Tue 18-Jun-13 08:03:21

Recruitment depends on what you are shooting for. Investment banks and the top consultancies only visit a few Unis, RG or not, but do say they accept applications from elsewhere. The Big 4 cast a wider net. There are far more Firsts awarded now so that is the new 2:1, and a 2:1 is the new 2:2.

Also it seems to depend on what you are studying, I get the impression that subjects that are harder to measure objectively (mainly arts, humanities) rely more on the Uni Name.

Oxbridge does seem to hand people a more golden key than others, but I'm not convinced that is due to the teaching....

exoticfruits Tue 18-Jun-13 08:07:18

Oxbridge maybe a 'more' golden key- it is not the golden key. With treble figures for most jobs you need a lot of 'strings to your bow'

exoticfruits Tue 18-Jun-13 08:08:56

And sadly a lot comes down to 'who you know' - work experience and networking are more important than university name.

Copthallresident Tue 18-Jun-13 08:18:01

mathyanxiety The point I was making is that employers are very highly selective and far more discerning than using RG as a crude measure of quality. If you look at the overall employment statistics, covering all subjects, there is a clear advantage to having a degree from Imperial/UCL/ LSE/ Cambridge in the 80%s but then in the second tier with the number with a career within six months in the 70% a degree from Bristol Durham Oxford Exeter etc is no more likely to get you a job than St Andrews, Loughborough, Heriott Watt and in the high 60%s the picture gets even more mixed, a degree from Nottingham, York or Southampton is no more likely to get you a career after six months than Surrey, Soas, or Kent, .........

In my own area marketing it is very much the trend to seek candidates who have degrees in stem or vocational subjects or already have vocational qualifications, work experience and perhaps be well on the way to Chartered Institute qualifications. The route I went in by, straight from uni with a RG History degree , then embarking on vocational qualifications whilst on the job, is now more or less defunct. Exotic fruits is completely correct in the experience of my friend's DCs and my DD's peers, it is all about building up a CV with any unpaid internships, postgrads, related work experience etc etc etc

2rebecca Tue 18-Jun-13 08:19:58

None of our kids are bothered about RG because they are doing nontraditional subjects, 2 arty and 1 engineering so going for more specialised universities.
Neither DH or I went to Russell group. It is underrepresented in Scotland.
For medicine, engineering, teaching, nursing, musical performance, art they seem an irrelevence. Probably more important if you're doing law or physics.

RussiansOnTheSpree Tue 18-Jun-13 08:20:25

Exotic - Oxbridge usually gives the student the opportunity to know the 'right' people and have had the 'right' opportunities before they ever get to the situation of job applications.

exoticfruits Tue 18-Jun-13 08:23:03

Indeed Russians- they still can't just sit back- they need to be proactive!

exoticfruits Tue 18-Jun-13 08:25:07

I did say it was a more golden key- I said it was not the golden key. You can go to Oxbridge and not find immediate employment, or employment at the right level.

RussiansOnTheSpree Tue 18-Jun-13 08:28:33

The very very best ones still just need to sit back and field offers. But that's a tiny number, really. The rest do need to stir themselves. But if they are minded to do that they are often bette placed than most other people (Imperial grads are pretty well positioned too).

Copthallresident Tue 18-Jun-13 08:30:46

Except Russians in the media. My friend's DD felt the tables are well and truly turned and you are less likely to get into journalism, especially broadcast journalism, from Oxbridge because of inverted snobbery. Xenia loves to talk about the prospects of the blonde thin and pretty accomplished networkers at Oxbridge. Well that is exactly what she is, though more importantly clever and charismatic, and she felt it was a positive disadvantage. She has got there in the end but that has been by proving again and again over five years in all manner of unpaid internships, lowly work experience and a vocational postgrad with a placement, that she can do the job.

exoticfruits Tue 18-Jun-13 08:32:32

Agreed- but it is dangerous to assume that your DC will be one of the tiny number fielding offers. (And dangerous for the DC to assume it). The likelihood also depends on the subject. The key is, as always, 'do your homework before you apply'.

wordfactory Tue 18-Jun-13 08:32:40

I asked DH about his recruitment policy (law) and he said that where you went to university definitely matters.

It's not a straight RG bias. Indeed he said that there were some RGs he wouldn't bother with, and some non RGs he would.

Basically, it's the first sift of applicants. Someone else does it. It's a way to make the numbers managable. Blunt, yes, but an effective way to create a pool. In the way that universities have a baseline entry requirement.

Then when you're through to the pool, other factors come into play. For examply DH has a complete prejudice towards those with law degrees! Other partners have other stuff they bring to the party.

And before anyone dives in a points out that the Senior Partner of XYZ went to Wolverhampton Polly...that may be true. But that was then, and this is now.

Copthallresident Tue 18-Jun-13 08:36:03

word Yes all my lawyer friends in city firms went to our lowly RG, but acknowledge they wouldn't stand a chance now. All their recruitment focuses on London and Oxbridge.

RabbitFromAHat Tue 18-Jun-13 08:36:35

I'm an academic from outside the UK and the snobbery surrounding the RG is ludicrous - the term is nothing more than a funding/lobby group, not a 'quality' measure. Employers are wrong to use a RG degree as a keyword for CV searches, and I would (wanton pre-judgement alert here from myself) tend to assume an employer who did so was elitist, out of touch, and unlikely to offer a recent graduate a career path which would enable them to stretch themselves quickly. I would also assume they would be equally retrograde on matters such as advancement for women and equality generally. :massivegeneralisation:

Looking at the field first, and then isolating the appropriate university, is the appropriate way to go. Of course there are dinosaurs everywhere.

Copthallresident Tue 18-Jun-13 08:41:23

My husband is in a IB and their recruitment has actually diversified and focused. They have just launched a programme for school leavers (the first intake all have straight A*s at A level) and they are increasingly working with universities like Bath who place people with them in their year in industry years so they road test graduates for jobs after. They are also requiring at least one language.

oulret Tue 18-Jun-13 08:57:39

In a company I used to work for, if you did not go to a Russell Group university or Durham (before they joined) then your CV went straight into the bin.

MoreBeta Tue 18-Jun-13 08:59:42

IB firms have always recruited A level students to work in back office roles and in the past lots of City firms also recruited 'barrow boy' types who were numerate and savvy but without significant formal qualifications to train on the job as back office and then working their way up to front office if they were good enough in market maker roles. Not everyone needs or wants a degree and it makes sense to look outside the standard pool of talent.

The IB firms still recruit at Oxbridge and top RG to fill graduate programmes though. I'm not saying its right but they have to somehow choose people and use a rough filter like Oxbridge and RG is a starting point for culling the thousands of applicants they get for their graduate programmes.

High street banks have always had both A level and graduate entry programmes too. There is too much focus on people going to university to get a degree. In my view only the top 25% of most academically able people need to go on to university. The remainder should start work and do apprenticeships, work related training programmes, profesisonal qualifications and then possibly go back to formal ediucation as part of career development later.

Copthallresident Tue 18-Jun-13 09:02:42

Morebeta This is a deliberate strategy to recruit those high fliers put off by high fees. Of those recruited in this first round three had Oxbridge offers.

MoreBeta Tue 18-Jun-13 09:03:45

One more thing...

In part the focus on RG universities has happened in response to the dumbing down of A levels and the redefining of what a university is.

Firms find it much much more difficult to differentiate candidates on the basis of qualifications now than in the past as so many more get A grades and go to university. In essence, picking a RG candidate is a safe and quick way way of differentiating among university students.

RussiansOnTheSpree Tue 18-Jun-13 09:12:22

Copthall The Big 4 are also doing this. There are two different types of scheme currently in play, that I'm aware of, one is recruitment directly after A level, for people with typically AA A* , and they start work straight away, they do their professional exams (which will take forever because of having to do the gateway technician qualification) and then maybe, if they stay the course, they will be allowed to do an MBA or similar. The other that I have direct knowledge of is recruitment directly after A level, but then being sent off to uni (Exeter and Manchester are involved, maybe some others, not sure), having uni paid for, completely, plus earning a salary for the chunks of time working (the structure of the whole thing is what we used to call 'thin sandwich' back in the day). These kids will presumably qualify earlier or at the same time as their not on the scheme graduate counterparts, plus have the degree and the qualification. Howev they have to do an accountancy degree which isn't the best thing for progression in the profession and they have to sell themselves into indentured slavery for some years (not sure how many). It's about the firms concerned identifying and capturing the talent early on. But they are still recruiting graduates too. There are other schemes being run by the international firms outside the big 4 and even the non international firms. All of them have their obvious advantages (mainly involving avoidance of uni debt and early earning) but all also have significant drawbacks which should not be underestimated.

I went to two RG's - one for my PGCE. Being at Uni was generally a very good experience, but I wished I'd focused more on aiming for a 2:1 as I think that's also fairly crucial, though I guess at least with my 2:2 I was able to go on and do the PGCE.
I think my daughter's generation are a lot more focused on realistic targets in their learning - knowing what they need to achieve to reach a particular level. I do think these things were all a lot more fussy in my day - 70's/ 80's - as shown by people like the OP not having realised they were at an RG. I also only came across the term recently.
In answer to the question posed, I think I'd encourage my DCs to aim for an RG (as I feel they are both capable of this), but wonder if the main thing is still to go to uni, and if possible aim for a 2:1 ?

Copthallresident Tue 18-Jun-13 09:31:12

russians Agreed but I can see why they have taken the decision to join a scheme that offers development and career progression to senior management in an IB on a good salary over significant levels of debt, particularly if their parents do not have the means or will to provide financial support. DHs colleagues came into banking by all sorts of diverse routes, our MBA course in the 80s was a springboard for two friends to reach Board level from backgrounds in civil engineering and quantity surveying respectively, but once in, it is a meritocracy and noone gives a damn about your background. Whether IB is a good long term bet as an industry is another matter wink

RussiansOnTheSpree Tue 18-Jun-13 09:42:04

I'm not so fussed for Boys. They can take a punt at 17 (which is what most of them will be when they start the application process) and if it doesn't work out, they can go back and do a degree at 25. Or 30. Or whatever. It's not such a great idea for girls though. Yes, they can go back at any age and do a degree, or a different non vocational degree if they don't in fact want to follow that vocation. And scores, hundreds, thousands of women do this every year, I know. But the additional factor of kids, when to have them, whether to have them, worrying about not having them, etc etc means that it's just that bit harder to change track. I also worry about vogue-ish schemes because sometimes, the people who get caught up in them find themselves left flapping when the mood changes and what was en vogue suddenly...isn't.

Basically, it's a minefield, and the best laid plans yada yada yada. So to my mind the best advice is still to do a degree in something you are interested in and think you will be ale to do really well in. At a place you fancy living and working in for at least 3 years. And then see what the world looks like.

MoreBeta Tue 18-Jun-13 09:42:06

Copthallresident - sorry but a candidate with an Oxbridge offer would be insane to turn that down and go straight into an IB at A level.

Uni is not for everyone but if you are academically gifted enough to go to Oxford or Cambridge you should go and then you will earn the money multiple times over to pay for the fees.

Spero Tue 18-Jun-13 09:43:26

I think the gov policy of pushing university education on all has been disastrous and led to confusion and dilution of standards to extent that certain industries now have to operate very crude sifting policies just to whittle down applications to manageable levels.

In 10 years, when and if my daughter is considering it I will tell her to think very carefully. Obviously if she wants to do medicine or law she will need university but I don't think it is worth getting into tens of thousands of debt unless she can get a good degree from a top 20 institution.

I would rather she trained in a field she enjoyed and was good at than went somewhere mid ranking to do an arts degree. I think sadly that would now just be a waste of time and money.

RussiansOnTheSpree Tue 18-Jun-13 09:46:31

Spero well, if she neither enjoys nor is good at arts subjects then yes that would be a waste of time money and the place (which would be better going to someone who valued it).

Some people want training. Some people hunger for education. If you and your DD aren't fussed about education then, sure, go the training route.

I too agree that too many people are going to university now - it's one of the reasons we are losing the concept of education as a positive good in and of itself. And getting it confused with training.

Yellowtip Tue 18-Jun-13 09:50:34

word your DH is being narrow, not broad minded, if he really does have a bee in his bonnet about law degrees. It is possible to have other interests and talents if you read law. I assume he's in a MC firm? Does he know they're sneaking in everywhere, like cockroaches? He needs to go on the attack smile

Spero Tue 18-Jun-13 09:55:46

I think people have forgotten what 'education' actually means - to lead out. Of course I am 'fussed' about education. I want my daughter to continue through life ever curious and interested.

But pushing lots of teenagers to go to 'university' as if this is the key to something is bonkers.

Everyone should make a cool assessment of where their talents lie, what they are good at and what they could realistically achieve given competition in their field.

This is bloody hard to do at 18 and probably near impossible with a panicking parent at your shoulder.

University is not the holy grail for life success. It depends entirely on how you define success. But if you want to do a popular degree in a popular field you are dangerously kidding yourself if you think universities are not ranked by all employers.

"And then see what the world looks like" - exactly Russians

cf Spero "I think that would sadly be a waste of time and money"

I think going to Uni will be worth it for most young people - I think we've all just got to try not to be too scared by the idea of debt. Think of it more as a graduate tax ? Someone said it would mean that during the years our DCs have a roughly graduate level job they'd be paying back about £20 a week ? On wage slips it even looks like an extra tax/ deduction.

I'll be encouraging my DCs to go to Uni, and was glad to hear 4x more youngsters are going now than 30 years ago. So, hopefully, they can both go somewhere (as good as they can manage), study something they enjoy - possibly with a thought for future employment, and benefit from everything uni can offer you in your early twenties.

We'll possibly be refining these thoughts over the next few years - ATM they're only 11 and 14 !

Spero Tue 18-Jun-13 10:01:21

My brother did Eng Lit degree at Essex. Tried and failed to get into publishing. Has been doing data entry for London council for ten years and now being made redundant. He lives in a bed sit in Finsbury Park. He may be happy, I don't know, we are not that close.

But I would consider that a piss poor return on my three year investment. If my daughter wants to do English, media studies, history of art etc I would ask her to think very very carefully, u less we had won lottery and could pay fees outright.

MiaowTheCat Tue 18-Jun-13 10:03:28

I went to a uni that's a relatively recent joiner to the RG (it wasn't at the time I went there) but was always targeted by the big graduate recruiters heavily even before it joined the group. Wasn't why I picked it - it was just always assumed within my family that it was the place I would go to - the "good" university near the family home.

I think it's possibly opened the door to me getting a job once (and that turned out to be the crappest career move of my life as it happened) - in contrast, DH went to an ex-poly and has done much better in terms of life and career terms than me (well, personally I'm pretty happy with my life "success" - in terms of two beautiful children, two slightly less beautiful dogs and one bonkers cat). Depends on the field you're going into though.

If the kids genuinely WANT to go to uni we'll back them all the way - if it's, like it was when I was that age (I was the last year to get a student grant), just "the thing" you do in order to delay having to figure out what you actually want to do with your life for 3 years... I'd be asking them to think long and hard about if they want to saddle themselves repaying student debt. They're likely to have to go to a local university though - I think the days of pootling off halfway around the country may well be dead in the water for lots more kids in years to come.

RussiansOnTheSpree Tue 18-Jun-13 10:12:18

Spero I haven't even remotely suggested that universities aren't ranked by employers. That would be a bit foolish given that I am part of a recruitment process some years. In fact, I have stressed that universities are ranked but that the vanity label 'RG' is not the thing which matters in the ranking.

Spero Tue 18-Jun-13 10:14:13

I am addressing the thread, not individuals, so apologies if you thought I was having a go at you.

I'd love my DD to go to Uni and do English Spero - she's really beginning to love English, and that's what her cousin is doing too. She also loves biology and likes history and geography as well. Also interested to do something which would help her work with animals. Something in the environmental sciences could be a possibility ?
I think you should think very, very carefully about advising your DD to think v. v carefully before going to Uni to do an Arts subject Spero !
It could be a good option for her ?!

SusanneLinder Tue 18-Jun-13 10:34:54

My son in law went to a Uni not on that list. He got a 1st in Accountancy, and has worked for an international firm of accountants and two major banks.He commands a salary that I can only dream about so think what Uni you went to is a load of crap personally

Spero Tue 18-Jun-13 10:37:07

I will continue to doubt it. If you are passionate about literature, 3 years at university will probably put a dent in that - I certainly felt that way about A level English... I can't think of Shakespeare or George Eliot now without feeling irritated and bored.

Yes, I am well aware that mummy's words of wisdom may probably force her into the arms of Beowulf but it won't be on my money! So she will need to think how she pays for tuition fees down the line.

She'd pay for them out of her earnings once she was earning over a certain level of salary

I find it scary too, but am trying to be brave so my DCs can enjoy the same benefits of a Uni education and lifestyle in their early twenties as I did smile

Copthallresident Tue 18-Jun-13 10:44:49

morebeta I didn't say that I thought it was the right decision, just that I can understand, the more so since I know how good the programme is and the aspirations the board have for it, it is an IB that has a strategy of inclusivity and fairness (absolutely no chance of DH swinging internships for sons of friends for instance) and knowing the back stories of the candidates. To be honest I think their big mistake is going into an IB at all at the moment. I don't think we have seen the biggest shake up of the industry by a long chalk, they are still sitting on a powder keg and giving off sparks......

Spero Tue 18-Jun-13 10:46:15

After ten years, I don't think my brother has paid off his student load because he doesn't earn much. He lives in bed sit and walks to work.

I am certainly not knocking that lifestyle if you are happy with it. Nor did he have to borrow shed loads as he got tuition free.

But from what I can see it will be £30K per year for my daughter to go and study in ten years, unless she lives with me and gets a part time job at same time.

I really feel strongly that some degrees are not worth that. If you love literature, writing etc, that is something you can enjoy all the time in your day to day life: if you live in a city or big town there are libraries, talks, festivals, etc,etc.

Paying thousands to 'deconstruct' literature is not money I consider worth spending. If my daughter wants to do it, so be it, she will be an adult by then. But I hope she makes that choice because she genuinely wants to, not simply because she can't think of anything else to do and 'everyone' is going to university.

I think you have to look at Uni debt as similar to a mortgage - plenty of people spend a lifetime paying their mortgage off and don't feel especially indebted by having one. Or, as many people have suggested, as like a graduate tax.
Also at 18 it can be very difficult to know which direction to go in regarding life and career. I think going off to Uni because everyone else is, and as Russian said "to see what the world looks like" remains a pretty good option.

Copthallresident Tue 18-Jun-13 10:58:20

I also agree that you can't discount the value of education for education's sake. I have one DD doing Science (at one of the very top unis) who pretty much has her future employment assured providing her fully funded internship this summer goes to plan but that is not why I am pleased and proud, it is because she is doing what fascinates and interests her and I can see how fulfilling and satisfying it is for her and that I have some how still managed to instil in her also an appreciation of the fulfilment and satisfaction that can be gained from literature and culture too.

DD2 is completely different, her strengths lie in empathy, emotional intelligence and creativity, she is not going to find a cure for cancer or go near a top 4 accountancy firm or city law firm. She is even contemplating History of Art as a degree. If only that she will get three years to indulge her intellectual interests we are supporting her, and who knows? Someone has to run art galleries? curate exhibitions? Just as long as she applies to the top unis that access those employment prospects, the top one isn't, of course, RG.

Spero Tue 18-Jun-13 11:18:56

Of course there will continue to be jobs in 'arty' fields but they are usually not well paid. This is the new horrible reality for our children - no more free degrees.

I agree that we take out mortgages on places to live but we usually want them to be quite nice places with a roof that doesn't leak etc. I want a return on my investment - I would have got into debt, indeed I did get into debt, for my degree and subsequent training as it got me a job that pays well and is interesting. Had I gone done the Eng Lit route I am not so sure I could have achieved both.

I think we are entering a very different world and hard decisions have to be made about whether or not ending up with 30K debt will be worth it for an English literature or History of Art degree.

lackingimagination Tue 18-Jun-13 11:20:28

I have very strong feelings on school leavers going on to university especially with the new tuition fees. It's a subject close to my heart with many of my friends and family members struggling with the repercussions of their choices now. My rule is not about which university someone attends, it is about the course they are studying.

I would strongly suggest that at the moment someone only goes to university if they are studying a specialist course, where you can only enter the profession having completed a degree in the subject area. E.g. medicine, science, engineering, psychology etc.

I graduated from a specialist course and am now employed in a job I would never have got without my degree. I have 20k+ student debt but every penny was worth it. My current income and future income warrant paying this initial outlay.

However, I have graduate friends (with 1:1s 2:1s) who are entering jobs at often the same level as non-graduates and seeing no 'fast-track' routes through to higher levels.

Slightly different but 2 of my friends (both the same age) give a great example for people debating whether to go to university: A left school at 16 and joined a company at entry level. B went through university and joined a company at 'graduate level'. A and B are now at the same level within their company and get paid the same amount of money. A has their own car, rents a house and has lots of savings in the bank. B is living at their parents', has 19k debt and not a penny in the bank.

Spero Tue 18-Jun-13 11:40:25

Agree strongly.

RussiansOnTheSpree Tue 18-Jun-13 11:46:18

This is a deeply depressing thread. Although I'm sure it would be pleasing to old Gradgrind.

Spero Tue 18-Jun-13 11:51:20

Well, there is depressing and there is realistic.

I am sure all of us who went to university in the 90s can remember a fair few of our compadres who literally pissed their degrees up walls and had no real interest in what they were studying.

Part of me thinks it is no bad thing for people to concentrate more on why they want to go and what they want to do with their degree.

University is not the only path to a happy, fulfilled, interesting life and I think it is very wrong sighted of various governments to push it as though it is. Wasn't it Steve Jobs or someone similar who told a load of Harvard undergrads that they were 'already failures'? i.e. anyone with any gumption and real intelligence was already out there in the real world being an entrepreneur etc.

Of course there will be a number of rich people who won't have to worry and their children can carry on doing interesting degrees with no immediate practical application to life. I agree that isn't fair but the solution to that is not to pay so that everyone can do interesting, but pretty useless, degrees.

RussiansOnTheSpree Tue 18-Jun-13 12:06:00

Spero what do you classify as a useful degree?

LaQueen Tue 18-Jun-13 12:07:37

DH's best friend, didn't get the grades for a RG university (arsed about with his A levels), despite being a clever, grammar school boy.

Instead, he went to a pretty low ranking university. But he got a First, was offered the chance to do his PhD...and for the past 13 years, has been working in the USA/Caymans in banking...earning an obscene amount of money, all tax free of course.

In financial/career terms he has been, by far, the most successful of all DH's close mates. Despite DH and the rest of his school friends all getting much better A levels, and all going to Oxbridge/RG universities.

His trick is that, aside from being a very clever bloke (when he can be bothered) he's very personable, people like him, and several times he's been in exactly the right place, at exactly the right, the Yanks luffs us Brits - and he maintains that just his accent alone, often opened doors for him.

Spero Tue 18-Jun-13 12:10:45

A degree that you need to get you to the next stage - law, medicine etc.

That is worth spending money on.

A degree learning about books or pictures, not so much. I had more fun and learned much more in 3 weeks at the Bristol Festival of ideas last year than I did in 2 years of English and History A levels, plus tickets for talks were under £10.

Of course a life without books, art and photos etc is not a life I want to lead. Just not remotely convinced those subjects are worth academic study over many years with a massive price tag attached.

LaQueen Tue 18-Jun-13 12:14:31

Agree with you lacking.

Both our DDs are academic, and will go to grammar school...but, we will strongly insist advise that when applying for university, they choose a course which has an excellent chance of leading to a good, professional career - which will earn them enough, that their loans aren't a huge shackle around their necks.

Sorry, but no Heritage Studies or Art History for our DDs, nope not even if at a RG university...luffly to study, though they maybe.

If they want to study something wooly, and basically useless then they can do that in their spare time...and DH will very happily offer them a position in his company - probably with a view that within 5 years, he can semi-retire, and leave them as Managing Directors.

nemno Tue 18-Jun-13 12:36:11

The point has been made many times in this thread but I do think it would be useful if posters gave some idea in their examples of when the brilliant career commenced that didn't require a top university/grade/subject. I think the current climate for fresh graduates is totally different to a decade ago.

I'm now of the view that if you must study something arty then it had better be at a very top institution. Apart from the huge debt I think students should consider that they will not be funded at all if at some future point they wish to study a vocational/different degree. This getting a degree is a one time deal unless you are very lucky (rich)and very dedicated (OU etc). Just picking your best subject so you can go to university at 18 may end up being a very daft thing to do.

RussiansOnTheSpree Tue 18-Jun-13 12:44:57

Picking a subject which the minions of orthodoxy deem acceptable, but which you are not that great at, are unlikely to do well at, and can only get into a not great institution to study, is also likely to be a very daft course of action. As is predicating your life choices on a model which is all but washed up now.

Spero Tue 18-Jun-13 12:57:28

But of course. Hence my point that you need to think long and hard about what you WANT to do, what you CAN do and what is available.

I did consider an Eng Lit degree in 1989, when my degree course would have been funded - I also got £500 a term maintenance from my LA which of course has been unheard of for quite some time.

If your child has a passion for something, is well aware of the pitfalls and still wants it then you would be a fool not to support them with all you have, as such passions are rare.

But did my brother have sufficient passion for Eng Lit to make a Finsbury Park bed sit and crappy admin job for the council a enjoyable payback? I don't think so.

RussiansOnTheSpree Tue 18-Jun-13 13:04:53

Spero I have a friend from my uni days who read English, who is now an award winning playwright. I'm not saying he is a more valid comparator than your brother, but he is an equally valid comparator. Your brother may have had many factors influencing his life choices and his opportunities. The choice of Essex university for a start will have set him on a certain path. Dismissing every other person who might want to read English because you think your brother's life isn't all that is somewhat foolish, no? There may be people who think your life isn't all that. Your brother may be one of them.

lainiekazan Tue 18-Jun-13 13:07:37

Every other kid I speak to is doing/wants to do Law. We are going to be overrun with lawyers - or rather, people with Law degrees. I have a nasty feeling it's set to become the new Media Studies, a degree so embarrassing that someone I know actually omits to mention they went to university rather than admit to their degree.

Might as well study something you actually like rather than trying to second guess employment prospects some years down the line.

I heard an interesting item on Woman's Hour some time ago urging kids to health check their chosen career if they were doing vocational degrees. Traditional print journalism is down the pan, and so will be grunt legal work.

Spero Tue 18-Jun-13 13:09:20

Its equally unhelpful to offer up your friend who writes plays as an example of what is likely or even achievable after an English literature degree.

I bet there are not many people earning a decent living from writing plays whereas there are lots of people doing jobs like my brother. Why end up in such a job AND have a massive student debt around your neck too?

that's all I am saying. He only had student loans of a few thousand, the state paid his tuituion fees. I think he would consider his position a lot more carefully if his degree hadn't been free.

newgirl Tue 18-Jun-13 13:10:39

How depressing to think of a world without arts degrees. Only posh, rich families will be able to afford them and our publishers, tv companies etc will be dominated by one type of person.

I think the answer is to make the arts degrees more practical - teach literature but also how to do desk top publishing, blogging, contracts, rights, basic design etc.

Spero Tue 18-Jun-13 13:12:45

And I totally agree about law, this has been the position since I started 20 years ago - a complete glut of people training because they think they will earn mega bucks.

Thus we have to sift. Probably most top firms/Chambers only look at a handful of universities when considering applications.

My message to any teenager wanting to do a law degree is that you have to be really, really sure this is what you want to do. The competition is insane. It seems you only get interviews now if you have first class degree from top university, have worked for US Supreme Court or on death row and won loads of awards.

Yes, if you end up in a field you enjoy it is worth it, but Bar School Fees for eg are now £16,000 pa I think. There is no way I could have even considered being a barrister if I had to pay that.

Spero Tue 18-Jun-13 13:13:42

newgirl - I agree. I think such areas are worth studying, just not for 3 years or more as an academic subject.

nenevomito Tue 18-Jun-13 13:16:14

The reality is that some of the smaller institutions doing specialist degrees - Nursing, radiography, teaching, paramedic etc, have more students employed the year after graduation than some of the RG or other 'top' universities.

Basing your choice on whether a Uni was represented in a particular hotel on a particular day doesn't mean the course is going to be great.

Spero Tue 18-Jun-13 13:18:39

Well d'oh, if you make your choice based on the fact your university had a nice stand at a hotel, then you deserve all you get.

It is not that difficult to compare and contrast the different ranking tables and find that, although there are differences, the same institutions come out in the top ten time after time.

I can only speak for law. Obviously if my daughter wanted a more niche field, she would need to research where was best.

nenevomito Tue 18-Jun-13 13:18:51

I have a degree in a very fluffy subject from an RG uni. I now have a very well paid job in an area completely unrelated. Why not do a subject you enjoy for the sheer enjoyment off it. Your life and career won't be dead in the water because of it.

Spero Tue 18-Jun-13 13:20:47

Because things are different now!!

You have to balance your 'sheer enjoyment' against the pretty hefty cost and it is only going to get worse.

I wouldn't have enjoyed studying in London if I had thought I would have a massive great mill stone of debt around my neck before I had even finished training.

lainiekazan Tue 18-Jun-13 13:26:45

I agree, baby heave. In the 80s everyone was Business Studies-mad. It was tacked on to every flippin' degree. I'm sure someone somewhere was doing Classics & Business Studies.

Did all those people become Top Management Consultants? Nah.

nemno Tue 18-Jun-13 13:31:18

"Picking a subject ....which you are not that great at, are unlikely to do well at, and can only get into a not great institution to study, is also likely to be a very daft course of action."

Do you think that is what I was recommending Russians? I didn't think such a thing would need stating. My actual opinion now is that it would make much more sense if young people didn't rush into studying anything until they have a fair idea what they are interested in, what they are capable of and will lead them onto a life path that they desire. Making the correct choices at 17/18 is a bit hit and miss.

I am of an age where my own , my siblings' and my friends' children are applying, studying and graduating. There is still very much the idea that university is what you do after after school. It is very scary, after 18 years of having your path predetermined and given the current youth employment situation to consider not going to university. It seemed obvious to me that one of my own DC was going because he couldn't face thinking of not going. He went, dropped out after one year, had a working year and then started on 'the right degree'. Luckily funding allows one false start like this. His GF ploughed on with her disliked degree and is now fairly stuck career wise.

jacks365 Tue 18-Jun-13 13:33:30

It's not a massive millstone round the neck though not really. The majority of this years students will never pay off their student loans they will end up being written off.Yes it's a lot but the structure for repayment is not that bad. The fees and repayments didn't put off any of dd1's circle of friends. Dd1 knows she will leave uni with 50k of debt but just views repaying it as an extra tax ie she only repays over a certain income, if she's earning enough to notice the repayments then the cost is worth it.

Mumzy Tue 18-Jun-13 13:51:40

DS1 is 11 and we are already starting to talk to him about possible careers. Unfortunately I can just do a subject for the love of it without a gameplan for a future career is long gone unless you have access to a trust fund. Approx 20% of jobs in UK require a degree but we had up to 40% of dcs going to university so a lot of those dcs are never going to land a graduate job. I'm all for dcs following their passions and studying a subject which they'd enjoy but as parents we need to help them make realistic choices such as: is the course content good? how is the teaching rated? Quality of the lecturers?, post graduate research?, employability of past students? If not a vocational course what further study/ internship may be needed to get employment? Possible future earnings?
All this might sound mercinary but even in my lifetime I have seen how much more competitive the job market is with lots more international candidates esp from EU and lots more people with degrees

nemno Tue 18-Jun-13 13:52:01

Student debt becomes a huge millstone if/when someone wishes to study something else. Who wants to accept early on that they just will never be able to repay? It is much more likely that a new career direction will be sought.

Mumzy Tue 18-Jun-13 13:54:19

Unfortunately the idea that you can

I agree with babyheave. Do a degree for the love of it because for a lot of jobs that require a degree, the subject doesn't much matter - the degree is just an indicator that you have had a decent education and you have a brain. For a lot of jobs you either study for a professional job qualification like accountancy or you learn on the job.

Yes some jobs require a specific degree like medicine or engineering but many don't.

I also agree with jack365 about the debt. I don't think it would put me off either and I came from a working class background and got a grant so it isn't like debt wouldn't have been an issue and I could have relied on the bank of mummy and daddy. Speculate to accumulate and all that. You don't have to pay it back until you are earning properly with the increased earning potential that the degree has given you, and then repayments are on very favourable terms.

jacks365 Tue 18-Jun-13 14:06:25

The point was though that in the greater scheme of things it really doesn't matter. If someone qualifies then 5 years later decides to do something else because there are no jobs they aren't stopped by having student debt, they would need to fund it themselves whether there was debt or not. Student debt has no bearing on getting a mortgage or car loan. I think this system will be too expensive long term and won't be around long but I don't think it's as bad as people really think with regards to repaying. It is possible though that my view is biased because I expect my dd to pretty much walk into a graduate job on leaving and to start out over the threshold to repay but that is down to her subject.

Spero Tue 18-Jun-13 14:20:55

I totally agree if you LOVE something - go for it.

But at least from my memories of my cohort in early 90s, none of us LOVED anything. We were all too young and stupid to know what we wanted. A lot of people were doing degrees because their parents pushed them into it or they couldn't think of anything else to do.

I think getting into any kind of big debt for anything less than a serious interest in your field is just silly.

nemno Tue 18-Jun-13 14:21:17

You're right jacks, my point was badly made. It is not the debt itself that stops you studying something further but it may well be not having the new study funded that makes it impossible.

Oh NO! My niece's first was from a non RG University. Does that mean her place on a fast-track graduate programme and the 2 promotions she's had since then are worthless? I'd best not tell her.

Mumzy Tue 18-Jun-13 14:28:15

Babyheave I don't know when you did your degree but 20 years ago only 10% of the population went to university so despite your degree subject/ class you had a certain rarity value. Nowadays with 40% heading to university institution/degree subject/ class are all used to sift out job candidates. If you really love your subject / instituition by all means go for it but bear in mind you could end in a non graduate job, on a low wage and a big debt

But Spero, what about all the jobs that require you to have a degree but don't care which one it is so long as you have one? You seem to be suggesting that people don't do a degree unless it is highly vocational or you love the subject but that completely misses out all the people who have done degrees in a subject they enjoy and are good at and have got jobs off the back of having a degree, regardless of what it is in.

When I did my degree you couldn't for example do chartered accountancy unless you had a degree (small exception for some sort of pre training course you did for a year at a poly and then a longer training contract) but nobody cared what your degree was in. That still applies to plenty of jobs.

Also, I went to university to do law and economics and become a lawyer. I didn't do that in the end, not for the lack of interest in the subjects, I just decided to do something else. I don't think anybody should worry unduly about doing that. Having a degree opens doors and doors that you might not have thought of at 18. Why not do a degree and see where it takes you rather than expecting people to chose their life's work at the age of 18? It will most likely do more good than harm and make a quantifiable difference to your earning potential so the debt becomes less relevant.

Spero Tue 18-Jun-13 14:48:03

Sorry, I have made it clear I can only speak for law with any knowledge - it is all I have done for 20 years.

But what are these jobs that require a degree but don't care which one?

I think in the current climate this is going to be a luxury a lot of businesses can't afford. If I was running a business I wouldn't want some mediocre graduate in any old thing of some middle ranking university. I would either want to train someone up in the ways of my business or I would want someone who had done a tough disclipline at a well regarded institution.

All I am saying is that 'follow your heart' now carries a cost which it did not before. If you can be sanguine about a £50K, debt, good for you. I know I couldn't.

I don't see anything wrong with encouraging people to have a clear head about what they want to do with their lives. I am emphatically NOT saying that only university can provide you with a great life, in fact I have been saying the opposite.

But not thinking about where you are going or what you are good at may not have a great outcome. You may be lucky and find yourself writing plays, but you are far more likely to end up like my brother. Fine, if that is what you want out of life but I certainly wanted more/different and worked hard to get it.

jacks365 Tue 18-Jun-13 14:50:32

Seem to recall one daughter deciding at 15 what she wanted to do as a career and working backwards to make her A level subject choices, her sister started even younger ie checking uni requirements before choosing her gcses. Neither have changed what they want to do and both are playing to their strengths but they have also chosen careers which require specific degrees that are universally respected. Some dc do know what they want early.

RussiansOnTheSpree Tue 18-Jun-13 15:02:19

SperoI really do think your brother (who you seem very down on) is a complete red herring. Everyone who does an English degree is not going to end up in a bedsit in Finsbury Park. There are not that many bedsits in Finsbury Park to go round!

lackingimagination Tue 18-Jun-13 15:08:30

I disagree that there are plenty of jobs that require someone to just have a degree, no matter what subject field it is in. In those that do exist, there if often an option for non-graduates to do a year long 'catch up' course (at a fraction of the cost of a degree).

I actually think this impression has come from the influx of recruitment agencies and the new mindsets of HR teams and is their easy (lazy) way of making sure candidates meet some form of minimum requirements.

I also wonder about studying something just because you love it. I love clothes and shoes but wouldn't pay 30k to spend 3 years of my life studying it because I have no desire to have a career in that field. Perhaps if you have a strong passion for something there would be other ways to indulge it than go to university - courses, exhibitions, self-research, reading etc.?

This is speaking with the situation as it is right now. I think it is such a shame that university has become like this. Essentially, I believe university should be for the academically elite. I do think all fields should be on offer including art, english, business studies... but only those who are very clever and passionate should be studying.

It is now just the 'done thing' for children to go to university. When I was at school looking at the options (not so long ago) even the students struggling with the work and obviously not particularly clever or study-orientated were told 'oh don't worry, we'll find a course for you'.

What it boils down to to me is that you either fon't do a degree in case you end up in a low paid job and it was all pointless (though don't forget you don't have to pay back the loan if it is that badly paid). Or you don't do a degree unless you know exactly where it is leading which will guarantee you spending your life in a deadend job with few prospects and options. For all the Alan Sugars and Richard Bransons doing well without s degree there are millions more who din't do well and have effectively limited rhe opportinities for life.

Jobs for which a dpecific degree is mot a requirement - accountacy as I say, Plenty of graduate management programmes, things like HR or sales where further qualifications are necessary but where a degree will give you a boost careerwise. My Sil and cousin both arr HR professions with completely irrelevant degrees.

Yellowtip Tue 18-Jun-13 15:23:18

Spero you're being far too scary about law. For starters, as far as top commercial firms go, you get your vac scheme interviews/ offers in your second year before sitting any final exams and the September offers of training contracts aren't dependent on any class of degree (usually). The timing of applications for the top chambers is different, I'll give you that, but you can certainly get in without a First.

The main thing I'd quarrel with is the idea that you have to really want to be a lawyer in a highly lucrative field to do a law degree. You don't. Some people actively want to work in the lower paid, less exalted field, because that's their thing. And above all doing a full three year law degree rather than the conversion course is a good in itself: hugely varied and rigorous and well regarded by lots of employers outside the law.

Copthallresident Tue 18-Jun-13 15:26:58

Spero Those students currently emerging with English and History degrees are doing exactly what those with Economics and Maths degrees are doing , assembling themselves CVs that demonstrate they have the skills and experience to do a job. Leaving aside Lawyers and Accountants , I don't know if you have noticed but there is a whole economy out there, without which the Lawyers (commercial city ones at least) and Accountants couldn't earn a penny. Alongside supporting DD2 in her academic choices she has for the past 18 months been pushed out the door and into the world of work to start assembling a. some money to support her plans and b. that CV. When she comes out of her degree she will already have experience in marketing, sales, web design, curating, magazine layout and producing publicity material, presenting, networking etc. all skills and experience that will help her get a job just as much as hopefully having demonstrated she has the intellect, motivation and ability to work hard needed to get a degree in an academic subject, even if it is in History. I really don't care if she goes into the thriving area of the economy that Uk PLCs creativity has given us a market advantage in.

Actually personally as a Marketing Director I would take the History graduate over the Marketing or Business Studies graduate as generally they had the intellectual and analytical skills and I could send them off to the CIM to develop the vocational skills whilst they were able to study them in the context of real life experience. It is hard to replicate experiencing that on an undergraduate business degree and hard to replicate the intellectual rigour of the study of an established academic subject, effective management is after all a mix of intellect and common sense. However I am quite happy to admit I am a bit of a dinosaur and most employers now want a more fully formed employee. Which is why the model is changing to accommodate the best candidates having a chance to do that forming.

Copthallresident Tue 18-Jun-13 15:48:45

Also if you think you have gained as much from reading and attending literary festivals as you would from the serious rigorous academic study of literature then as someone who spent 35 years doing the former and the last twelve doing the latter you really really don't know what you are missing smile

Spero Tue 18-Jun-13 15:48:54

I am not 'down' on my brother. I am just pointing out that an Eng Lit degree from a mediocre University may not be worth getting into debt for. I hope he is happy!

I don't think I am being scarey about law. I have taught law at three different institutions, I have lots of friends who are city solicitor types. The competition is very very intense and if you think a 2:1 from anywhere will get you in regardless of field, you are very, very wrong.

I don't think I can emphasise this enough, given the enormous debt that many law students will build up, if they don't get good training contracts, bursaries, etc.

I do work in the less exalted field of publicly funded family work. I could never have chose this field if I had a big student debt as the pay, while good, is not that good.

Copthall, I don't see that we are disagreeing. I am simply saying that spending three years deconstructing Beowulf is a pursuit that should be considered very carefully now that it cannot be pursued for free. Your child is clearly not doing that, but taking a clear headed approach on how to use and build on her skills.

Hopefully Eng lit degrees have moved on quite a lot from when I was researching them, as it was a long time ago now. But even as a callow teenager I thought all the courses sounded like a load of self indulgent wank.

Spero Tue 18-Jun-13 15:51:30

'Rigorous academic study of literature' ??

What does this even mean? 'studying' literature appears to be an exercise in utter futility, stripping books of anything that gives joy and indulging in tedious subjective exercises of 'deconstruction'.

I used to have a little bet with myself how wanky I could in my analysis of Iago or Middlemarch before anyone would notice.

No one ever did. I got an A in English Literature A Level and am left with a profound sense of cycnicism about the whole thing.

Boomba Tue 18-Jun-13 15:59:41
jacks365 Tue 18-Jun-13 16:00:23

Spero it doesn't matter whether you go into low paid or high paid work with student debts as you only pay a percentage over a certain amount so chances are for example that your brother wouldn't repay much if anything, if you earn more you pay more. I think it pays to think of student debt as a graduate tax, if you don't benefit you don't pay, if you only benefit a little you only pay a little, benefit a lot you pay a lot up to a max amount

Spero Tue 18-Jun-13 16:05:41

True, but I still think it is incredibly off putting. Plus the costs of living away from home. I agree with the poster who said that students will probably have to stick close to their home towns, which kind of negates the whole POINT of university - apart from the study, a chance to spread your wings, meet loads of new people, not go home to your parents every night...

Maybe it is just very scarey for someone of my generation who benefitted from free education, hopefully my daughter's generation will be a lot more clued up. I don't want to see everyone becoming some drone, obsessed with this 'competitive race' that Gove keeps going on about.

Trouble is, if you insist on 'winners' you are inevitably creating a pyramid with only very few on top.

LaQueen Tue 18-Jun-13 16:08:58

I agree with you Spero

The problem with an English Literature degree, from a good university is that it was deemed one of the gold standard indicators of an education.

But, it's not hugely applicable in the wider world. It wasn't when I graduated with one, over 20 years ago...and I think it's much, much worse nowadays.

Like you I could sound very clever, and also did a fine line in pretentious wankerism...however, the finely honed ability to give a Marxist interpretation of Mansfield Park, is neither feckin use nor ornament in the big, bad world.

I have joined, and then left, two local book groups because I simply couldn't keep a straight face when others wittered on about the intricate use of symbolism in the sub-text, or some such nonsense...yep, eventhough I can analyse and deconstruct with the best of 'em. But what is the feckin point? It's just sounding clever, for clever's sake...and it doesn't impress me.

Much as I loved my subject, I wish I'd studied something more relevent and useful.

Spero Tue 18-Jun-13 16:12:13


Remember this?

This is the problem with any field of endeavour that relies almost entirely on subjective analysis. No one is ever 'wrong'. People have built entire careers, on what to me appears entirely arid and devoid of any interest or application to anyone outside their narrow field.

Of course, I have now guarranteed that this is exactly what my daughter will want to do, so I will resign myself to many years of biting lips and strained congratuations....

Spero Tue 18-Jun-13 16:15:05

My favourite quote

Alan Sokal, a US physics professor, had a definite target in mind in 1996: the emptiness of trendy cultural theorists. And he scored a definite hit by getting a bogus article published in Social Text, an academic journal of cultural studies. Titled Transgressing the Boundaries: Towards a Transformative Hermaneutics of Quantum Gravity, it was little more than a string of meaningless postmodern jargon.

so all that rigorous academic study, and no one at that journal at least could spot the fake...

cory Tue 18-Jun-13 16:20:07

A lot of the discussion on this thread seems to be about whether your degree is good enough for the top firms/chambers. But presumably somebody must work in the not-quite-so-top firms and chambers?

Ah, I forgot. They won't be the children of Mumsnetters. grin

Spero Tue 18-Jun-13 16:26:12

No, my point is that you need at least a 2:1 from even a mid ranking place to have a hope in hell of getting anywhere for law. There is a huge glut of graduates.

there was an interesting thread a few months back from someone who thought that she should retrain as a barrister as she had an Oxbridge 2:1. a few hundred posts later and I think she got the point that this was no longer a guaranttee of anything much and wouldn't put her remotely in the lead for competition for pupillage/training contracts.

LaQueen Tue 18-Jun-13 16:26:23

Yes, was at university that I became totally disillusioned with what my brain was being trained to do.

I wrote a 2000 word essay on Poem (as the cat) by William Carlos's only feckin 30 words long (or something), and yet I could effortlessly churn out 2000 words analysing it, without breaking a sweat, and to be honest wouldn't have had a problem churning out another 2000, and had to make myself conclude at 2000.

I just thought to myself 'What is the feckin point of this...I am just being trained to drivel on and on and on and on...nothing is right, nothing is wrong, there is only an endless, open-ended series of opinion.'

Spero Tue 18-Jun-13 16:29:28

AND at the same time I loathed the texts I had to read over and over again and write constant bowel curdling tedious essays about.

School has killed Shakespeare for me STONE DEAD. It nearly did the same with Austen, but thank goodness she escaped, just about.

I remember going to Bristol's open day and learning that the course was first year, Chaucer, second year Beowulf, third year, can't remember as think I had run out screaming at this point.

Thus I decided on law, being innumerate and wholly unscientific I had not many options open to me. My dad refused to speak to me for a few months, but it was a small price to pay to be spared a solid year of Chaucer.

cory Tue 18-Jun-13 16:36:00

So what were your tutors doing not marking for quality of content, Spero and LaQueen? If my students' essays are full of meaningless drivel I will tell them so (ever so nicely). If they attempt to hitch a ride on trendy jargon I will mark them down- as per instructions from my department. Originality of content and quality of argument are separate marking criteria (along with quality of language and various others) and we need to explain in our feedback exactly how they have fallen short of the various criteria.

cathan Tue 18-Jun-13 16:37:35

I think it matters what you study almost as much as where you study. Some universities that are not RG have a good reputation for particular subjects and you should certainly not hesitate to apply to a uni that is good for your subject even if it's not RG. That said, my DD is at a RG uni and I hope she'll be employable when she graduates next year!

Spero Tue 18-Jun-13 16:37:47

My A level tutors were either very thick or didn't bother reading what I wrote OR I was clever enough to string together convincing sounding crap.

My money is on the latter, seeing how easy it was to fool the entire editorial staff of the journal in my link.

cory Tue 18-Jun-13 16:38:15

Ah, so you are judging a degree in English literature from your experience of A-levels, Spero. Is that reasonable? I might have to mark you down for quality of argument. wink

LaQueen Tue 18-Jun-13 16:39:41

No one should have to do a year of Chaucer...same as no one should ever have to read James Joyce...days of my life, that I will never get back.

Frankly, I am envious of my friends who did a far more useful degree, that they could apply to real life and that led through a corporate career structure.

As far as I can see, my degree just trained my brain to do pointless stuff - albeit I do sound very articulate, and I'm a demon at the Art&Literature questions in Trivial Pursuit...but, essentially I can just trot out a fine line in glib conversation, and can construct a decent essay.

Whooppe-Doo hmm

Spero Tue 18-Jun-13 16:41:36

Nope, I am judging it from A level study, plus research into five courses at Oxford, Exeter, Royal holloway and Bedford and two others now vanished into obscurity.

I attended open days, spoke to students and tutors. I was then interviewed by three on my list.

I am so thankful I did not go down that route. I think I would have ended up extremely frustrated and bitter.

Spero Tue 18-Jun-13 16:43:22

I now read a lot for pleasure and it is probably the thing I enjoy most, apart from playing with my ipad.

But I will never accept that literature is suitable for three years academic study. If you do want to to that at university, I think you had better make sure you chose somewhere in the top ten otherwise it could be an expensive indulgence.

LaQueen Tue 18-Jun-13 16:43:38

"My A level tutors were either very thick or didn't bother reading what I wrote OR I was clever enough to string together convincing sounding crap."

Well at university I once handed in the same essay, on two different courses (with just a few tweaks). I got 73% for it on one course (which the title was relevent to), and admittedly only got 53% for it, on the other it wasn't really relevent, which the tutor duly noted in their summation...but, they praised my engaging writing style, and my evident passion for the subject matter.

No one ever this was in the days when you still wrote your essays, and they didn't use plagirism software etc.

Spero Tue 18-Jun-13 16:46:40

hahahah! I did an OU course in child development - I had to drop out half way through with serious morning sickness.

Once baby born, I started again so had already 'done' the first three essays. So I simply submitted the same essays - and EACH TIME got radically different marks for EXACTLY the same material.

One was incredible - the first time it was submitted I got 73% and lots of glowing comments. The second I got 53% and lots of criticisms. Exactly the same title, nothing had changed on the course in a year, I hadn't missed anything vital. Just one examine had a subjectively different approach.

Please don't tell me that anything about this kind of process deserves the descritptor of 'rigourous'.

Spero Tue 18-Jun-13 16:47:31

ooo spooky! I have just noticed our percentages were the same!!!! What does this mean?

Copthallresident Tue 18-Jun-13 16:48:01

Well there was quite a lot of Marxist wankering in my 70s History degree too and still, if you are looking for it in the study of literature. However you get stupid posey pretentiousness that makes a mountain out of a molehill and uses big words where simple words will do in all disciplines and walks of life ESPECIALLY business, and law is certainly not immune. It chimed with me that Gloria Steinem, of "women need men like fish need a bicycle", said “Nobody cares about feminist academic writing. That's careerism. These poor women in academia have to talk this silly language that nobody can understand in order to be accepted... But I recognize the fact that we have this ridiculous system of tenure, that the whole thrust of academia is one that values education, in my opinion, in inverse ratio to its usefulness—and what you write in inverse relationship to its understandability. [...] Academics are forced to write in language no one can understand so that they get tenure. They have to say 'discourse', not 'talk'. Knowledge that is not accessible is not helpful.”

Marxism and Deconstructionism are just two approaches to literary criticism now which you can find useful or discard much as you would a business or strategy model. Both my job and my literary studies required the application of my intellectual and analytical skills. I would assume all that exposure to great writers would have improved my writing skills and the construction of arguments within essays requires the same skills as putting together a business/ strategy proposal. I actually embarked on further study because I wanted to improve my insight into another culture, something that is important if you are going to devise marketing strategies. which it certainly did. In the end though I have been ambushed by the magic and enjoyment and an intense curiosity, plus we don't need money anymore but we do need an escape from the stress and to find out what is actually enjoyable and fulfilling in our lives.

Spero Tue 18-Jun-13 16:50:16

I don't object to a creative writing course - say a year at UEA? I would pay for that.

What I do object to is spending YEARS arguing over what Dickens/George Eliot/Stephen King actually MEANT by the provocative semi colon in that penultimate line.

Newsflash. No one cares. No one will ever care. Just read the book and enjoy it.

Copthallresident Tue 18-Jun-13 17:26:21

Spero I wish I could have got away with obsessing with a colon, how about "Gao Xingjiang is a misogynist narcissist and only got the Nobel prize because he conned the Norwegians into thinking he was speaking for the people of China" requiring you to read all 700 pages, and do a lot of contextual research, and then come to appreciate that it was a bit more complicated than that and the book wasn't such a load of crap after all, paralleling pretty much all the west's misconceptions of China (and I might say those of someone who hasn't been within a hundred yards of the English Department of a university in the last twenty years or so)

Spero are you sure the child dev questions were the same? IME they make subtle changes. I was pregnant with DS1 when I did child dev. I spent the maternity leave before he was born studying in the hope that I would only have to do one essay and the exam afterwards. I thought it would be a piece of cake given that 'babies sleep all the time', don't they? <<hollow laugh of the disillusioned>>

I restarted the course the next year and although I didn't have to do much work for the essays that I had done before the questions were very slightly different and they had to be tweeked.

I also dropped out of another psychology course half way through and again, the questions were similar but not exactly the same.

It might explain why you got a lower mark second time around.wink

Anyway, on a general point, this thread seems very London-centric. There is a whole big world outside of London where fewer people give a damn about whether your degree is RG or not. All this nonsense about you won't get a job with a big six accountancy firm or the best chambers - most people wouldn't want to and can still go on to have successful and interesting careers without all this angst about what degree subject they studied and where they studied it.

Tortington Tue 18-Jun-13 17:29:36

dh went to one - i didn't

i earn more

he's happier


mathanxiety Tue 18-Jun-13 17:52:37

I pushed the DCs into university in the US because of the opportunity there to be educated as opposed to trained, and paradoxically because a really rigorous university education there makes you a versatile and highly desirable potential recruit, but I still made it clear nobody was to even think about doing a degree in English Lit or equivalent once they got in.

If I had a liberal arts-leaning student heading off to university and they were good enough to consider Oxbridge I would be pointing them in the direction of highly selective universities in the US too. It's a great way to hedge your bets, subject-wise, explore what you like and are perhaps suited for, and still end up very employable. DD1 started out as an architecture student but graduated in 2012 with a degree in economics. Along the way she learned Persian, did enough maths and science to allow her to consider taking the MCAT if she wasn't such a wuss about blood, and did enough fine arts courses to allow her to think about it as a minor. Plus philosophy, psychology and history and a stint studying abroad in France. At a highly selective US university, doing English Lit or history, etc., wouldn't knock you out of the running for an analyst job in finance/on Wall Street because you would have studied enough relevant subjects at a rigorous enough level to make your liberal arts major irrelevant in many cases, but I still advised DD1 to stick with the maths-heavy economics.

DS is on a track that will hopefully see him going to med school but he could equally apply to law school. DD2 is heading off all starry-eyed about a career in the US diplomatic service or on some political think tank and will probably go to law school upon graduation. If I am successful in my lobbying efforts she will concentrate on economics or even change direction into the maths and science area her brother is focusing on. I think this is her longest and strongest suit but she likes arguing, and getting paid for it would be her idea of bliss.

Since they are studying in the US their choices are made with repayment of US student debt in mind. Repayment is not linked to ability to pay and they will not be able to defer repayment indefinitely. As the wind blows in America it will eventually blow in the UK.

At the one end in the UK there are many former polys that would be perfectly fine as polys, fulfilling the absolutely essential mission polys had when they were initially conceived, and on the other you have universities offering degrees that are far too highly specialised, and a secondary education system that forces students to foreclose on vast areas of study and employment at an early age. The result is Oxford graduate with degrees in Classics starting careers in the Treasury with little or no exposure to maths since age 16 and probably none in economics. It's a pity anyone has to throw the dice so young in the UK, but I agree with Spero that since this is now necessary it has to be done very carefully.

Spero Tue 18-Jun-13 17:57:07

I accept I have very negative views about Eng lit so. So nothing I say should be taken as impartial career advice.

As far as I recall the essay title were exactly the same, hence I just submitted the same essays. But even if there were 'subtle tweaks' how do I plunge from a near first to a low 2:2? Kind of hints to me that the marking depends on the individual marking it.

I agree we will inevitably go the way of the US re funding.

Yellowtip Tue 18-Jun-13 18:51:52

Spero I don't think I said or implied that a 2.1 from any old place will suffice to get you a top training contract or pupillage, I merely said you don't need a First from Oxford, Cambridge, Durham, UCL or the LSE and you certainly don't need to have pulled parental strings to shadow at the US Supreme Court (that could actually backfire, big time).

You avoided the point that law degrees are good intellectual training in themselves. Given your uncompromising line on the utter futility of English degrees (and all Arts degrees?) I'd expect you to recant slightly and say actually no harm done wading into a law degree without being certain quite what it is you want to do later.

Yellowtip Tue 18-Jun-13 18:58:48

math some students enjoy specialism. I daresay my elder DC could have been in the running for a decent Ivy League place but didn't want to stay broad and/so preferred to stay here. I think the end result will be very little different. It's just a matter of how to skin cats.

howdoIdealwiththisone Tue 18-Jun-13 19:13:03

I am a lawyer. I earn six figures. I didn't go to a Russell Group university (although it is a very good university and i did check the list to see if it was in there!). I worked for a top international law firm for many years plus one of the big five accountancy firms in the city. You do not need to go to a Russell group university to do well.

Having said that I've also seen hundreds of cvs from young people who have wasted their time doing law degrees at former polytechnics or new universities, gained a 2.2 or even a 2.1 and will never unfortunately get a training contract to enable them to qualify as a lawyer. Because quite simply the legal profession has changed massively. We have been hit hard by the recession and many law firms are restructuring so that they have partners at the top, paralegals at the bottom and far fewer mid level lawyers. Law graduates are expensive and can't do much (in many cases no more than unqualified paralegals). We don't need as many new lawyers and so those who get the training n contracts will be mainly those with firsts from Oxbridge who can also show they are rounded people with good interpersonal skills and something about them.

LaQueen Tue 18-Jun-13 19:15:24

Spero I submitted the same essay (with genuinely just a couple of tweaks, and slightly different introductions) for my Victorian Women Writers course, and my Nineteenth Century Literature course.

Admitedly, both fairly similar course contents...and thinking about it, I could probably have got away with submitting the same essay on my Romantic Revolution course, too.

Which just proved to me that if you can write engaging waffle, with enough clever stuff thrown in, then your lecturers would lap it up and give you a fairly decent grade.

Looking back, I suspect all my essays were much of a muchness, really. Especially, as I quickly clued up as to what sort of essay, each lecturer liked, etc.

howdoIdealwiththisone Tue 18-Jun-13 19:16:05

I also went to a crappy comp, got an E in A level maths and got a 2.1 at my non Russell Group University.

Xenia Tue 18-Jun-13 19:21:28

I went to a RG university and my siblings to Oxbridge. I think it has helped us in terms of how we are perceived in our professions and our careers although after a few years it is whether you are good at the work that counts.

For some of the better paid jobs in London it definitely helps to get into a good RG university. I suspect but might be wrong my daughter got her job partly because she had been at Bristol whereas had she picked London Met or Middlesex or Hertfordshire "University" she definitely would not have done. Plus she needed a lot of As, 2/1 etc etc and all the rest.

mathanxiety Tue 18-Jun-13 19:22:22

Some people are just forced into a certain avenue because it's where they perceive their strengths to lie when choosing A levels, and because they have not been required to keep at subjects they found challenging (or subjects where they were poorly taught) and could progress to choosy universities without a broad selection of subjects, they have dropped maths or history as soon as they they could -- too soon imo. I believe a system that forces students to be excellent all rounders at least up to their second year of university produces a better calibre of graduate, certainly a more versatile one. Versatile graduates make for an adaptable economy.

Allowing students to graduate from a university without a decent level of fluency in a second language seems especially dim-witted to me as a policy, but I think there is also something to be said for making students continue with maths to calculus and beyond as a graduation requirement.

RussiansOnTheSpree Tue 18-Jun-13 19:28:18

The Russell Group was created in 1994. Nobody who went to university before 1994 went to a RG university. Some of the universities now in the RG were pretty poor in the 70s and 80s. Some of the top universities in the 70s and 80s were not founder members of the RG or are still not members today.

TheOriginalSteamingNit Tue 18-Jun-13 19:28:37

Ha, sorry to go back, but 'evident passion for the subject' and 'engaging writing style' are what I say as the bread in a very shitty shit sandwich....

TheOriginalSteamingNit Tue 18-Jun-13 19:39:30

Sorry, that ^^ was bitchy - but as an English Lit lecturer, obviously that's how I'm going to feel! (watch too for 'it is clear you have engaged with some of the important themes here, and have been inspired by the text') - but even aside from the fact that, obviously, I would defend the analysis of the literary text as an academic subject, and aside also from the fact that I think that some of the comments made about it are a little bit daft - if a DC wanted to do it, good for them: better a degree you're committed to and care about than one that fits with someone else's utilitarian notions of what HE is or should be - but even apart from that, I make reasonable money doing it; I love doing it; it's a good career if you stick at it.

LaQueen Tue 18-Jun-13 20:07:23

S'okay Nit I'm not offended. I was actually very good at my subject, and got a good degree.

But, I don't feel it actually prepared me for anything all that useful. And, looking back I think I just indulged myself with an English Literature degree, because I knew it would be easy for me.

I wish now, that I'd done something more applied, or with a bolt on professional qualification, if that makes sense? But, as I never really wanted to teach...I essentially I feel I have wasted my degree/education.

motherinferior Tue 18-Jun-13 20:12:30

I think my English degree trained me in rigorous analysis. I didn't find it particularly 'easy', because I don't think it's supposed to be easy if you take it seriously. I did enjoy it hugely, and it trained me to think.

I have found thinking, and the ability to analyse and interrogate a text, really quite useful in subsequent life.

Spero Tue 18-Jun-13 20:41:50

Yellowtip - why on earth would anyone chose to do a law degree u less they wanted to practise law? It is very tedious. If you want academic challenge there are any number of other subjects which are challenging, interesting and useful.

I don't think I met a single law student in both my time as student and tutor who did not want to practise law. The sad fact is that quite a lot did not make it.

All this 'do something just for the hell of it, you never know where it might lead' is lovely in theory but sadly it's thinking which applies to another time and place. Very few students will now have the luxury of floating about while they deliberate their next move.

I am not saying I think this is a great state of affairs but it is the world we live in now. My daughter will get one bite of the higher education cherry because there is no way I could afford more.

I will be deeply unimpressed if she tells me she will give a law degree a go because it sounds challenging and she can't think of anything else.

motherinferior Tue 18-Jun-13 20:52:59

BTW none of my peers from my English degree days are in bedsits in Finsbury Park either.

LaQueen Tue 18-Jun-13 21:19:27

I dunno mother. I didn't take my degree seriously. Essentially I spent 3 years drinking, and writing the occasional essay. But, I never found it hard. I actually feel my A Level English was more demanding/exacting.

KittensoftPuppydog Tue 18-Jun-13 21:38:35

Mother-totally agree with you re English degree. And I now have a science masters so am in a position to compare.

Copthallresident Tue 18-Jun-13 22:01:11

LaQueen I also spent my undergraduate years drinking and having a good time and suddenly woke up to how interesting it was around three weeks before finals and still got a 2.1. That was then. This is now.... None of the undergraduates at my uni can get away with that now, they work incredibly hard and they are off overseas to get work experience every holiday and they work very hard at getting jobs.

LaQueen Tue 18-Jun-13 22:04:34

Yes, I think it's a very different story nowadays Cop - times really have changed.

RussiansOnTheSpree Tue 18-Jun-13 22:16:45

I know people with law degrees who work in: the civil service; large corporates; human resources; banks; the third sector; accountancy firms; professional bodies; regulators.

That's just off the top of my head. None of these people are qualified solicitors or barristers (or national equivalent- the people I'm thinking of include Americans and Germans).

As for graduates wafting round while they consider their next move - that's exactly what a whole load of them are doing right now, and that will continue.

TheOriginalSteamingNit Tue 18-Jun-13 22:22:22

Well I just hope my students remember my feedback so clearly ten years down the line.... hollow laugh.

Spero Tue 18-Jun-13 22:25:44

The people I know with law degrees in non legal fields went there when they could not get a job as practising lawyer. I went to UCL, tutored there, City and Birkbeck so I would be surprised if my experience was unusual, although I accept I am London centric.

alimac87 Tue 18-Jun-13 22:25:44

I am charmed by all the St Andrews further up the thread who (like me) assumed it was RG and are slightly miffed. And there was a Milk Round, as competitive and meaningless as they all are.

TheOriginalSteamingNit Tue 18-Jun-13 22:26:44

And spero, I don't know where or when you went to university, of course, but if it's any comfort we mark and double mark and get moderated and externally moderated for almost everything, so it's unlikely that any individual's bias against you could have been able to affect your mark like that. Unfortunately sometimes students write good essays and then less good essays... For all kinds of reasons.

howdoIdealwiththisone Tue 18-Jun-13 22:27:04

That will be true of course Russian but the reality is that most people who do a law degree will initially hope to become a solicitor or a barrister. Otherwise they would better placed doing a business management degree for example where there will get a grounding in law but also in accountancy, economics etc.

I feel for those students who do a law degree hoping to become a lawyer nowadays because the competition is really tough and our profession still pays a lot of attention to where you went to school, where you went to university etc. Its hard to get a foot in the door.

I attended a conference recently where the speaker was suggesting that working as a paralegal before securing a training contract will become the norm (and paralegals often earn minimum wage or not much more)

Spero Tue 18-Jun-13 22:28:45

I have experience of marking undergraduates. In 1996-7. I was shocked by lack of moderation or supervision of my work. The only feedback I got was that I should not have failed so many as only a certain percentage of failure was 'acceptable'.

Spero Tue 18-Jun-13 22:30:26

Er, it was the same essay. I printed it off twice, it came back with significantly different mark. This happened three times. The biggest gap was 20%, the smallest 5% - which I would accept, but not 20%.

Portofino Tue 18-Jun-13 22:34:13

Well the RG only came into existence in 1994 so some up thread are lying when they bring it into discussions about where they went to Uni and that this was a factor. I would think this is all just mass snobbery and there are certain firms that look to this stuff, but vast majority of employers would like to see a GOOD relevant and practical degree and some work experience from their potential hires.

TheOriginalSteamingNit Tue 18-Jun-13 22:36:17

Blingy, I've missed the back story then, spero, sorry: why did you do that?

TheOriginalSteamingNit Tue 18-Jun-13 22:36:33

Blimey, not blingy, sorry!

RussiansOnTheSpree Tue 18-Jun-13 22:37:42

Business management degrees are a waste of time (shields iPad from Business Information Management academic DH on opposite sofa). It's true though. And he knows it.

howdoIdealwiththisone Tue 18-Jun-13 22:39:57

Disagree Russians. I have a business management degree and I earn six figures (although as a lawyer)

TheOriginalSteamingNit Tue 18-Jun-13 22:40:57

Anyway, I think an English lit degree is a perfectly good thing to do with three years, and it can teach you a lot about thinking and analysing, if that's what you want. I remember with mine really enjoying the fact that it took me into every area of the library (theology, psychology, economics, history, anthropology....)

Spero Tue 18-Jun-13 22:44:31

Sorry - which back story are you missing?

open University - two different tutors gave the same essay different marks which has compounded my cynicism about subjective arty subjects

Marking undergrads - I didn't get tenancy after my first pupilage, so I spent a number of years 'in the wilderness' as law lecturer and working for the law Commission. Which has informed my view that there are far, far too many people studying law and many will get into big debt for little reward.

Yellowtip Tue 18-Jun-13 22:46:21

Oh ok Spero. Admittedly I still hanker after a History degree but I did still really enjoy law. Perhaps I'm dull. Or perhaps your tutors were dull. Anyhow, I started out at an MC firm though I never intended to at all. I just kind of applied because everyone else wanted to do that, which I guess is quite limp smile. DD1's boyfriend did a law degree and has just binned his MC offer which he always railed against accepting and has gone off into a more exotic alternative career. You clearly disparage English as a valid academic discipline so perhaps you're just a disparager. Which disciplines are interesting as far as you're concerned? And why didn't you apply for one of those instead of law?

TheOriginalSteamingNit Tue 18-Jun-13 22:52:21

I just meant I'd missed the submitting same essay context. I wish that didn't lead you to draw conclusions about arts and lit more generally: may as well say it should make you cynical about the OU, surely?

Spero Tue 18-Jun-13 22:53:26

I can't do maths or science so all I had was eng lit history or law.

This was due to a combination of truly shit school career advice and me being dull and lacking in imagination. If i could have my time again would try for,psychology somewhere really good - although I suspect I would have struggled with statistics - then do the law conversion course, this compressing the dull bits into one year. Anyone who claims to find the majority of core subjects in law 'interesting' is either joking or someone I view with suspicion.

The only point I am making is now that we have to,pay for degrees o need to consider more carefully what return you get on your investment. I don't rate arty fluffy subjects where all is 'opinion'. Would love my daughter to do engineering or physics, something meaty that actually matters. She can read books and go to the theatre without spending years wanking on about the subtext of what she reads.

But if she really wants eng lit or history of art, she is genuinely engaged and has given at least some thought to,where it will take her, of course I will support her.

But I will be crying inside.

TheOriginalSteamingNit Tue 18-Jun-13 23:00:23

It's really not all opinion in English. Though students who aren't doing very well often like to think it is!

Yellowtip Tue 18-Jun-13 23:00:36

I'm certainly not joking and I don't think those who know me view me as suspect: I found several of the core subjects immensely interesting.

Where did you do your degree? (I think I can anticipate what you're about to say smile).

Spero Tue 18-Jun-13 23:08:20

Some are ok - liked crime a lot. But land law and trusts?? Surely not...

I was undergrad at UCL which certainly at time was seen as London solicitor factory - think 80% of my year went to city sols firms, only handful of us tried for Bar. No wannabe academics.

As far as I recall there was even then considerable worry and pressure about getting a 2:1 as without it your prospects were grim.

RussiansOnTheSpree Tue 18-Jun-13 23:11:33

howdoIdeal I earn 6 figures as well. Good, innit. grin I know what I'm talking about. But feel free to disagree. Although perhaps you might want to ask yourself what was the point of your 'business management' degree if you are working as a lawyer now?

Spero Tue 18-Jun-13 23:17:43

Nit - all I can say is that I treated my English A level with bored contempt. I got an A in 1988 when a grades meant something! <old gimmer emoticon>.

I accept I haven't done an Eng Lit degree, which is probably good thing for all concerned, so can't speak with authority about what it entails. But surely it is not a million miles away from the fruitless and arid dissection of texts that was forced upon us at A level??

Dawndonna Tue 18-Jun-13 23:21:53

Art 'fluffy' subjects teach a fair whack more than fluff. How to analyse, challenge, write. Important things and useful in all sorts of careers.

RussiansOnTheSpree Tue 18-Jun-13 23:23:47

Dawndonna Exactly. The ability to analyse, challenge and write effectively are absolutely crucial in my particular line of work.

Spero Tue 18-Jun-13 23:25:51

But analyse what? Our own subjective opinion of someone else's subjective opinion? Sorry, still struggling to find either discipline or rigour in this.

I remember John Lennon saying he wrote I Am the Walrus to mess with the people who liked 'analysing' his lyrics.

Yellowtip Tue 18-Jun-13 23:41:40

How many in your year at UCL Spero, roughly?

Copthallresident Tue 18-Jun-13 23:42:17

Sperro but why did he do that? He certainly wasn't the first. Dickens etc were all being alternative by indulging in novel writing in the first place, and all good authors have been engaged in subversion in some form or the other

Dawndonna Tue 18-Jun-13 23:45:10

To challenge perceptions, to analyse how we feel about something,to make a difference. Books can change the world.

Spero Tue 18-Jun-13 23:45:50

O god, i can't remember. Quite a lot? More than 30?

I am off to bed now. Think the best advice I can give my daughter is, come the Zombie Apocalypse, what kind of skills will you want on your team?

Spero Tue 18-Jun-13 23:47:10

Yes, yes, I profoundly agree, books can and have changed the world.

People writing essays about those books however, have not. Of course, I stand to be corrected but must put my prejudices to bed now.

Night all.

RussiansOnTheSpree Tue 18-Jun-13 23:47:56

Well, interestingly, the zombie apocalypse threatening Westeros (for 16 bleep years as Axis of Awesome so helpfully point out) looks like it will be solved by either book learning or dragons.

I don't think there are any degrees in Dragons on offer at the moment.

So, books it is. Sorted.

Dawndonna Tue 18-Jun-13 23:53:50

Roland Barthes, Julia Kristiva, et al.
People writing about One flew over, along with the book, changed mental health treatment around the world. Come the apocalypse I want an historian, a lit major and a philosopher. They will have read the manuals!

RussiansOnTheSpree Tue 18-Jun-13 23:54:53

Dragons. Seriously.

MsAverage Wed 19-Jun-13 07:38:50

When I learnt that RG takes 1/4 of all undergrads in the country, these two letters lost all its charm potential for me. 1/4 can not offer courses which will be substantially better than all the courses from the rest 3/4.

The same about students - it just can not be, that RG's 1/4 is the top, and a student number [1/4] + 1 is worse than everyone in [1/4]. I can imagine that to be true to a small highly specialised institution with artificially small intake and large demand like... I dunno... the Royal Ballet Upper School. In such conditions you can say - "everyone in is better than anyone out". But for RG, which takes 10% of a population cohort? Everyone from Southampton is better than anyone from Middlesex? You gotta be kidding.

This is me in my employer's hat. Now I put on my parent's hat, and say if my DD is not capable of getting AAB on A-levels, perhaps, she should not waste money on any uni. I am a skeptic on value of modern unis.

Spero Wed 19-Jun-13 08:07:13

So Ken Kesey doesn't get the credit for writing One Flew etc and changing our perceptions? The critics who wrote about him do? Really?

I express polite scepticism about that.

Come the Zombie Apocalypse I want to be with the medics, engineers, electricians and plumbers. And I won't care where or if they went to university.

wordfactory Wed 19-Jun-13 08:13:55

I love dissecting text. I find it really fun. And ,as motherinferior said, it's very good training for analysis.

That said, I do think we Eng Lit lovers need to be able to laugh at ourselves. Some of it is the snake eating his tail.

As a writer, I now find myself in the, frankly, weird position of having students email me regularly to ask me about my work. Why did I do this? What's the meaning of that? The truth is, so much of it is little more than random...grin

MarshaBrady Wed 19-Jun-13 08:17:16

I did economics and criticism (English literature). They were both good and develop different ways of thinking.

Back then it was a pretty safe bet to get into Big Four from economics, good recruitment ties obviously, much easier than say publishing despite the poor pay of the latter.

Will be more competitive now I imagine.

Copthallresident Wed 19-Jun-13 08:34:28

sperro I may be a History graduate and have postgrad degrees in Marketing and the History, Lit and Anthropology of another continent but I'm dead good with an engine, electrical circuit, growing fruit and veg, setting up distribution and logistics networks, negotiating, basic first aid, building a wall, coping with shit and trauma and still being able to laugh. I think I'd be pretty good come Armageddon, and it will partly be to do with my (now) RG degree because it taught me to think things through, the rest was real life. I wonder how useful a law degree will be when the rule of law breaks down wink

I think it is sad that if your DC wants to study Literature you will be crying inside. I have one child who is a mumsnetters dream, Scientist, elite uni etc., sure she will have an assured career and may even find a cure for Cancer but I worry about her more in real life than I do my dyslexic /dyspraxic child who has empathy and creativity. She would and should never have been squeezed into a STEM shaped box, it would have made her very unhappy. However the world is full of opportunities for someone with her talents, especially as she is adaptable, there are many many ways to crack this thing called life, not just a career in the city and a big house with a nice kitchen in the suburbs? Aren't we all happiest when we get to use our talents to make a difference? And all those Literature students are wrestling with issues that are at he heart of real life. If they have read and understood One flew over the cuckoos nest as my Dd has,and better still been made to really understand and engage with it, they are going to be better equipped when they encounter mental illness as they surely will.

TheOriginalSteamingNit Wed 19-Jun-13 08:36:59

I think we should all be able to laugh at ourselves grin. But the whole 'what did the author mean to put in the book for the reader to get the message he/she wanted to send?' is not always the most useful or interesting way to think about a text anyway - though English at school seems heavily focussed on it.

MarshaBrady Wed 19-Jun-13 08:44:59

Ours was all Baudrillard, Derrida rather then finding out author's meaning, that was more Year 12 with themes. Also feminism would have been bypassed without that degree. The author was dead by the time we got to university. <ha, flashback>

Economics and statistics were interesting, but I can't say balancing debit and credit columns in accounting held much joy.

Spero Wed 19-Jun-13 09:21:40

Copthall, ok you can be on my team come the Zombie Apocalypse, you sound quite handy.

My law degree will of course be useless when the rule of law breaks down. As will any degree in any arts subject.

I think we seem to be misunderstanding each other. I am not saying that a big flashy city job is the only way forward in life. I think I have repeatedly said that there are many ways to live a good life which is why I am so suspicious that university is being touted by various Govs as the ONLY solution when patently for many children it is not and they would be much happier being allowed to develop more practical as opposed to 'academic' talents.

For me it boils down to this - if you want to get a degree in a subject with no immediate and obvious applicability to earning money, make sure you go to the best university you can get into. Because competition is fierce. If you think employers don't rank, you are wrong. They do it, not because they think graduates at all other institutions are crap but when your desk is covered in 100s of apps you have to have a sifting mechanism.

Not so fussed about 'Russell Group' but it does seem that in the past 20 years or so the Top Ten have remained pretty constant.

Spero Wed 19-Jun-13 09:25:16

O and of course I agree that reading One Flew will inevitably make you more attuned and aware of issues surrounding mental illness and its 'treatment'. I think I said that a few posts ago.

I have no doubt books change the world, by changing people. I have read of various studies which demonstrate that people who read fiction are more empathetic - I am not sure if this is because by their nature they are drawn to fiction or that reading about other's experiences increases their ability to emphathise.

But I utterly reject any suggestion that then dissecting a book and writing about it is in any way comparable. It is like taking a beautiful living creature and dissecting it then arguing about what the liver really means.

I have frequently been moved to tears by things I have read. By authors. Things I have read by critics have also moved me to tears, but not in a good way.

TheOriginalSteamingNit Wed 19-Jun-13 09:46:23

Well it's a good job that surgeons and medical researchers don't spend their time looking at beautiful living creatures crying about how lovely they are, isn't it! grin

And no, I'm not saying a literary critic is comparable to someone who finds a cure for cancer, obviously... appreciating literature and becoming a more empathetic person for the reading of it is great, of course. I often think there's a mismatch between people who want to do a literature degree because they see it as a form of appreciation and want to discuss books, and those who are interested in a more dispassionate form of analysis. We're not here to giggle about how much we'd like to boff Mr Darcy in a pond or whatever, or sigh over how very very true it is that beauty is truth and truth beauty...

Nobody in this job could argue we're splitting any atoms: I consider myself lucky to live in a world/country where I can do this, and teach it. No argument about that - but I hotly contend the idea that it's all just subjective opinion.

TheOriginalSteamingNit Wed 19-Jun-13 09:49:03

(conteST, sorry!).

Dawndonna Wed 19-Jun-13 09:56:39

Of course Kesey gets credit, but if people hadn't read/reviewed/commented/analysed it may have sunk without a trace, as many very good books do.
As for taking apart a book in the way that a surgeon does, no, it's different. Does Hard Times demonstrates that Dickens was an ameriolist? Was Jane Eyre the first feminist writing? These are discussions worth having. It gives us a perspective on history, women's lives etc. Which can in turn give us a perspective on today.
The unreliable narrator gives a different perspective on a book and the society from which he/she comes.

Spero Wed 19-Jun-13 10:27:47

Of course surgeons aren't crying over the beautiful body they have to cut open, and thank goodness for that, otherwise a lot of us would be dead.

No one has explained where the 'objective' element comes into literary criticism.

A surgeon has to cut open flesh to cure. He/she has to know where to cut and what bits to cut out. There is little room for debate about that.

A book can be read and interpreted in a thousand different ways. Yes, I am sure I can learn a lot about a narrow strata of upper middle class society from reading Jane Austen but to say that reading the novels of authors of the time is more than just adding colour to a historical analysis of conditions at the time is just bonkers. It is a frequent criticism of Austen that she is so narrow - no discussion of all the horrible wars going on at the time etc.

I care little for that because I don't read her to understand the political/social/economic situation of England in late 18th century. I read and enjoy her for her treatment of universal themes of love, loss and compromise.

My life would not be enriched one iota by reading what somebody else thought about her work. I am simply not interested. If someone else tells me Jane Austen is crap - as did Mark Twain who I greatly admire - that is their opinion. I don't agree with it, they are entitled to have it and it doesn't greatly interest me because it is all wholly subjective.

Of course, others may not agree with me and may find that ploughing through essays of literary criticism is what makes their day. Well, good for them.

But this thread addresses another point; this isn't a battle between arts and sciences and which is 'best', we aren 't talking about that. (But I would say it is probably the biggest problem our country has that for so long we were in the grip of an elite who despised science and thought only Latin and Greek were fit topics of study)

We are talking about the depressingly practical point of the path our children are to take in terms of higher education, now that it is no longer free.

So I stand by what I say; if you want to spend your time talking about what other people create, think long and hard about the institution you go to. If what you want to do is of limited use or enjoyment to the vast majority of people so you will NEED the credibility of a very good university, unless you want to risk chucking your tuition fees down the drain.

TheOriginalSteamingNit Wed 19-Jun-13 10:31:33

Well yes, but of course no literary critic writes 'Jane Austen is crap', do they? They're not - not since F.R. Leavis - there to assess the merit and value of a literary text.

Spero Wed 19-Jun-13 10:32:27

If only literary critics would express themselves with such economy!

Spero Wed 19-Jun-13 10:33:30

So what on earth ARE they talking about that historians, sociologists, economists and pyschologists etc can't do a whole lot better with rather more impressive research/statistics/original source docs??

Dawndonna Wed 19-Jun-13 10:37:43

I bloody hate Austen! grin
However, I agree with you in that she represents a narrow strata, but when looking at the writing and taking it alongside her peers one can get a reasonable view of the whole.
Austen needs to be studied, her style of writing changed the way in which novels were written and has persisted for the best part of two hundred years. Yes there are writers who do it differently, Safran Foer, Self and others, but in the main, we are still influenced by Austen.
As a lecturer, I feel extraordinarily sad that you would be upset if your daughter chose the arts.
I agree with you about elite society. Unfortunately, we are now in the grip of a government who are an elite, businessmen with no sense for either art or science, heading for an oligarchy. Equally depressing.
Arts do have a major place in society, it is those with the arts degrees that write our newspapers, make our governments account for themselves and pose the philosophical and moral questions that need to be discussed. My DS is going to university in September, he will be studying Lit. I am very happy and know that he will make a good and important contribution to society.

amazingmumof6 Wed 19-Jun-13 10:40:39

would anyone please tell me what Russel Group means, please?

if not too much trouble.....

MarshaBrady Wed 19-Jun-13 10:40:54

We did a whole load of cultural criticism too, I think eng. lit maybe be wrong name for that. No Austen tg.

TheOriginalSteamingNit Wed 19-Jun-13 10:55:37

Spero, you hate literary criticism and you hate the idea of literature degrees - I think that's a bit of a shame but I'm not really going to have a lot of success persuading you it's a valid intellectual thing to do, so I think we shall have to agree to disagree (I don't know what you do for a living, so won't be rude about it in return wink).

BeckAndCall Wed 19-Jun-13 11:05:24

Amazing mum of 6 - the OPs link gives you all you need to know - second post on page 1

motherinferior Wed 19-Jun-13 11:07:04

Austen rocks. See the late great fabulous Angela Carter on the 'twanging sexuality' of her writing. (In a collection published back in the 1980s when publishers produced that kind of thing called, rather fabulously, 'The Left and the Erotic'. I think I blagged a review copy when I worked on a lefty magazine back in the day.)

amazingmumof6 Wed 19-Jun-13 11:07:36

beckandcall thanks, I didn't see that. will check it out. thank you

(I'm not thick, but now I wonder - would I have spotted that if I had gone to RG place?grin)

motherinferior Wed 19-Jun-13 11:07:56

Austen also gives the best defence of reading novels around, in Northanger Abbey, although I cannot quote it verbatim and it's too high up on our shelves to reach since Mr Inferior alphabetised the books.

BeckAndCall Wed 19-Jun-13 11:09:25

Lol at amazing! That's the spirit - you've picked up very quickly what this thread is about!

amazingmumof6 Wed 19-Jun-13 11:14:19

thanks Becks grin

I'm glad I can be the sum of all things this thread! grin

Copthallresident Wed 19-Jun-13 11:18:21

amazingit's a group of universities who met in the Russell Hotel and decided to form a gang so they could lobby the government more effectively. There is another gang called the 1994 group. Some of the universities in the group are very good, especially for some subjects, and some not so good, especially for some subjects, as indeed is the case with the 1994 group, but because some people are too lazy to google university league tables they have acquired the perception that being part of the Russell group equates to quality. As a result a few more universities defected from the 1994 gang to the Russell Group gang. Some universities ever joined a gang but some of those are good too especially for some subjects. You can find out which are good by googling university league tables and university subject league tables where you will find all manner of objective measures of quality, student satisfaction, UCAS points for entry, research rankings, employment statistics but it is apparently beyond those who recruit for the Big 4 accounting firms, city law firms etc hmm

Dawn noooooo. With the possible exception of Vince Cable this cabinet are NOT businessmen, nor have they ever been. They are rich boys who wanted to be cabinet ministers and Daddy got them an internship, they have never had to work for a living. Gove was a journalist . I do not claim that the business world doesn't have it's idiots but on the whole it does it's research, identifies the issues and plans what it will do based on evidence and consultation etc it isn't rocket science but if you have any common sense it is obviously the way to go, and if you don't it is in every How to manage change text book even the ones used for GCSE business studies.....

Spero Wed 19-Jun-13 11:19:55

Hate is rather a strong word for it. I don't 'hate' much in life, I reserve that emotion for what deserves it.

I quite accept that studying literature is not worthy of anyone's 'hate' - all I am saying is that I don't think it is quite so vital and necessary for the happy continuation of Society as its proponents argue. But of course we are all protective of the fields where we have spent so much of our lives.

I love literature but I don't think if all Eng Lit departments shut down tomorrow people would stop writing.

But ok, you have beaten me down. You all seem to be able to afford computers at least so maybe my daughter wouldn't be doomed to a Finsbury Park bedsit. I will send her to talk to you when the time comes.

So I will try not to cry inside, but there may be still some metaphorical twitching.

Spero Wed 19-Jun-13 11:23:41

Copthall - just one small point before I go.

I have 300 applications on my desk. I am volunteering to do the first sift for third six pupillage interviews. I am tired. I have a lot of other work to do.

So, do I head off to Google to research whether Thames Valley University has acquired some cachet in a niche field? Do I pour over the 2:2s to see if they are redeemed by all the extra cirricular activities?

No I bloody well do not.

I am not saying this is ideal. I am not saying that everyone in my reject pile is crap. But when I have at least a 100 applications which are all perfectly good I will identify and employ an initial crude sifting policy.

I bet I am not alone in this. And it is something to think about if you want to get into a very competitive and popular field.

Xenia Wed 19-Jun-13 11:33:26

amazing, it's just one grouping. The important point has always been to know which universities the clever better teenagers go to as employers snowed under by applications need to limit their search a bit. So if get to Oxbridge that has always been helpful in career terms as they are hard to get into. Next down used to be Durham which would still be pretty high up anyone's list. Bristol is good etc etc...... Some in the RG are not sa good as others however so it is by no means some kind of entry into good jobs but better than institutions which are easier to get in to. It is just a common sense thing - if just about any thicko in the land with CCB in A levels can get in it won't be such a good place. If you only get in with As and A* at A levels then it will be a good place.

BeckAndCall Wed 19-Jun-13 11:33:41

Spero is definitely right for her field ( as of course she would be - I'm just backing it up here)- getting that first opportunity and making the cut is massively dependent on where you went and what degree you got.

As an illustration, DD wants to be a barrister. She is at a very good RG uni but not Oxbridge or Bristol. She has a mini pupillage booked for the summer but just getting past the first sweep was almost impossible - the one she got was through picking up the phone and badgering away.

She also applied for solicitor summer internships - didn't get a single call back and some actually said they were only looking at very specific unis for their candidates.

Copthallresident Wed 19-Jun-13 11:39:56

So Sperro , are you only going to include only those who went to the RG universities, and include all those who did? thought not......

We sifted on a points score of academic results, including Gcse and A level, then a closer look at the 25% who got through that to check out relevant factors like work experience, extra curricular, why they wanted to work for us looking for evidence they had skills , experience and the qualities that we had closely defined as needed to do the job, it was a general management training scheme, the specialist area they were assigned to was decided at interview. Then we interviewed 5%. Now our scheme does pre testing, and telephone interviewing between the sift and deciding who to interview.

I suspect for law you know pretty much what you are looking for.

Even UCL wouldn't guarantee you the best candidates, there is a low rent way of getting in via SEES. But Law from SOAS if you are an International firm building it's practise in the Middle East?

Spero Wed 19-Jun-13 12:10:32

RG means little to me, it was established after I graduated.

To my pupil master in 1994, the only universities he would consider were Oxford, Cambridge and LSE.

When I am sifting, first sift, out goes anything below 2:1.
Then I group firsts, will usually recommend all firsts for interview unless something strikingly off about application.

Then I group 2:is according to institution.

Oxford, Cambridge, Kings, Bristol UCL, LSE, Exeter, Durham are ones who automatically make that first cut.

Then I give preference to those who have done mooting, debating, worked for law centres, worked abroad etc.

I will easily have 100 or so applications who make it through that first sift.
So after that, I might as well toss a coin, they are all equally as good.

I am a family lawyer. I am not looking for someone with particular niche specialisms. If I did have such particular specifications, no doubt it would be worth paying someone to recruit/head hunt so they could do a proper job. But when you are in a field with many, many perfectly good recruits then I am afraid the subtleties of the sifting process get lost.

Beckandcall - good luck to your daughter. I always told my students that if you had the basic academics and you kept trying at some point you would succeed. I am living proof of that - got knocked back after first pupillage, tried again and after three years succeeded. The problem is whether or not you can bear to spend maybe years chasing a dream. This is particularly a problem if you have a family and need to get an income coming in.

But it sounds like she has good gung ho attitude. If she keeps trying and builds up some good work experience and contacts, she should make it eventually. Just can't predict how long it will be... a lot of people lose heart.

RussiansOnTheSpree Wed 19-Jun-13 12:29:24

And of course Exeter has only just joined the RG. As has Durham.

For many whizzy (mathsy) city jobs Imperial and Warwick would be much better regarded than Kings (I know someone who did War Studies (I think that was what it was called - although that might have been his father's shorthand for a more complex course title) at Kings though and walked (recently) into an excellent corporate role.

SEES would certainly be attractive to anyone with business in the emerging European countries, especially if the candidate had language skills. My sister did history at SEES and works for a MC firm (although not as a lawyer, as an analyst).

In my area one of the key things we look at is ability to communicate and analyse (the shorthand we sometimes use for this is 'has read a book, ever'. Increasingly, good language skills are at a real premium (not just foreign language skills either).

strictlovingmum Wed 19-Jun-13 12:36:39

IMO this thread is not about artistic v scientific, Which is better or more profitable/employable?
What I understood from OP are following questions raised, Why there is so much weight placed upon RG universities?
Should our DC's providing they make the required grades apply only to RG universities?
Probably yes.
DS is sitting his last exam (Maths A level) as I write, all five applications for RG uni's were sent back in January, all five offered him a cond. place,
he knew exactly which uni's to go for based on his chosen course.
Sixth formers receive lot of advice from their college during application process, DS was strongly advised/swayed in favour of RG university, as were the others in his year.
To DS this debate is not overly important, to him this is a simple task (revise, make the grades and get into a very good uni, where ration of women to men is 6:2) grin

Spero Wed 19-Jun-13 12:37:11

Of course, if i was recruiting mathematicians or scientists that list would look very different. Equally if I was looking for creative writers.

I think students should try to find out which is the best regarded institution for their field - for some that is easy as your field is quite niche, such as journalism or agriculture.

But for law, and I imagine same is true for Eng Lit, there are very many institutions that offer a course, so you do have to be careful.

Copthallresident Wed 19-Jun-13 12:49:18

Russians Absolutely, SSEES graduates will bring with them expertise (and possibly language skills) relevant to doing business in Eastern Europe. I am not in any way denigrating it as a centre for area studies, I wouldn't would I? wink However I do know students, who studied History at SSEES, so that they could put down on their CV that they have a BA in History from UCL in the hope it implies to an employer they were of a standard to have got on the UCL general History course which had an AAA offer when up until recently you may have got in to SSEES with BBB. In fact the gap has now narrowed and I gather it is an AAA offer v A*AA for History at UCL, hopefully as a result of students actually wanting to study Eastern Europe as opposed to use it as a strategy for making their CV look better.

My whole point is that both for prospective students and employers it is the course and uni that indicates quality, not the RG "brand" which is a pretty empty one. And as far as employers go they are also looking for a whole load of other evidence that a candidate has the qualities, skills and experience to do whatever job they are recruiting for, so graduates can't rely on an empty brand to get them a job.

Copthallresident Wed 19-Jun-13 13:00:23

strict If the school was advising RG to the exclusion of all others they were irresponsible. What if you want to study History of Art (best course is at The Courtauld) Chinese or Arabic Studies (SOAS if not Oxbridge) Civil Engineering (Heriott Watt if you can't get into UCL or Imperial) Electronic Engineering (Surrey if not Southampton) I am pretty sure they referred your son to the subject tables where he would have found all the relevant info on employability etc, Perhaps in DS's case all the best courses were at RG unis but that isn't the result of them being RG, it's the result of their individual records of teaching, research, demand etc in his subject.

RussiansOnTheSpree Wed 19-Jun-13 13:02:03

copthall My sister went to SSEES a very long time ago! grin And she most assuredly did not get BBB. She did get an A in history though, in the days before norm referencing was abolished. Why did she apply to SSEES? Because someone in my year who had fucked up her A levels slightly and thus missed her St Andrews offer and her back up went there through clearing and adored it, and was quite evangelical back at the school when they invited us back to talk about our courses etc for the 6th formers considering uni. Was she genuinely interested in slavonic and eastern european history before she got there? Eastern european definitely yes. Slavonic, no, not even slightly. She is now though. She really came into her own while at Uni (and now has an MA too). She is proud of SSEES and puts it on her CV.

I completely agree with you about the vanity badge but clearly there are people who just refuse to accept that it is, as you say, pretty empty.

As I have said in this thread - when I start saying I went to an RG university instead of saying Cambridge, or when an Imperial Graduate uses RG rather than Imperial, then it can be taken seriously. Until then, when people say RG I assume they mean Newcastle (which is actually a uni my DD1 may very well look at when the time comes, but not because of its RG badge but because it currently offers a unique course which she is intrigued by).

LaQueen Wed 19-Jun-13 13:16:14

Russian my ex did War Studies, at Kings back in the early 90s. He actually transfered from an English Literature degree, to do it.

LaQueen Wed 19-Jun-13 13:18:41

And, I agree with dawn I just can't make myself love Austen. I know I should. But I don't.

Privately, I hold that the only reason she has retained fame, is because she was one of only a few women writing at the time. An opinion I once mooted in a tutorial, amd my tutor virtually spat in my face (he was a mahoosive Austen fan, and wrote his thesis on her).

RussiansOnTheSpree Wed 19-Jun-13 13:19:27

She's quite the most amusing writer some of us know. grin

carrie74 Wed 19-Jun-13 13:27:18

Having not read the whole thread, just bits, I thought I'd use my [RG] degree course info to interject:

I was taught by a v well-respected economist that education is merely a signalling tool: no one really cares about the content of what you learnt, merely the grades achieved, so that (like Spero above), they can sift through large numbers of seemingly similar people. When bombarded by thousands of graduates who seemingly have similar skills, something is required to differentiate them, and a simple way is via their University.

Anyway, seemed to work for my husband and me: both went to RG Unis, both got Big 4 graduate jobs. He'll soon be a Big 4 partner, I've taken a bit of a career break for the children (I'm working, but PT and not at my full ability or salary bracket).

When I was choosing Universities, I wanted to get into the absolutely best of my abilities. Sadly, Oxbridge was beyond me, but 4 of the 5 universities I applied to are in the RG (although I didn't know that at the time). [Showing my age] When I applied to Uni, Polys were still so-called, and I didn't apply to any, as if I couldn't get into a red brick, I didn't want to go to Uni. This was [cough] 17 years ago, and given this thread, it looks as thoguh things haven't changed that much.

Yellowtip Wed 19-Jun-13 13:29:18

strict the question was not should DC provided they make the required grades only apply to RG unis. It was entirely different. The was if DC can't make the grades required for a RG uni, should they bother with uni at all? That's much more difficult to answer.

RussiansOnTheSpree Wed 19-Jun-13 13:31:26

Although, since some degree courses aren't actually taught at RG universities, that makes it slightly easier in some cases...

Spero Wed 19-Jun-13 14:30:35

LaQueen, I am surprised you don't like Austen, I thought you had quite similar senses of humour.

Have you read her letters? I quite like the one where she says a mutual friend has given birth early, possibly after a fright ... 'She may have looked at her husband unexpectedly'

(This is meant as a compliment by the way)

Lazyjaney Wed 19-Jun-13 15:36:44

Thinking of Spero's sifting, would there be a perceived difference between a two candidates who get the same law conversion degree from the same RG uni, but one candidate has a good RG and another with a Poorer non RG batchelors but who had done well enough to get into the better Uni for the Law conversion?

(I can imagine people who mess up A levels, or who work hard, coming in that way)

LaQueen Wed 19-Jun-13 16:06:30

I actually have vair plebian tastes when it comes to literature Spero - I am currently very much enjoying all the Jack Reacher novels, and I like a wee bit of Penny Vincenzi on my holibobs [shrugs]

Spero Wed 19-Jun-13 16:11:05

My current chambers adopts a more rigorous process than previous chambers - now we have to allocate points for class of degree etc, and each application is looked at by at least two people to try and make it as fair as possible BUT given sheer weight of numbers it is quite possible that a perfectly good candidate might get binned because first university is perceived as not so good.

The problem is that it is very easy to spot the outstanding and the awful candidates. That is probably only about 20% of the applicants.

You can't just pick the outstanding to interview as they are being courted by everyone and may well turn you down.

So you have to find five or so from very many applications from people who have all done pretty well.

I am glad I didn't appreciate this when I was applying or would have had nervous breakdown.

I remember in 1994 I think, the Bar School in London (then the ONLY provider of this course in the country) decided to select based on A level results as some study or other claimed they were the best predictor of future success. Cue lots of shock for my friends who had ballsed up their A levels but who had got into 'good' universities by the back door, I.e. by applying for unpopular course which only required low grades. I think there was a successful judicial review and they had to abandon that policy, but it's another example of just how desperate we are in certain fields for a way to deal with huge numbers of applicants.

In law, I really think you will struggle if you don't have good A levels and degree from well respected university. Not because you wouldn't be a good lawyer but because you just might not even get interviews.

TheOriginalSteamingNit Wed 19-Jun-13 16:13:39

I'd never read JA for pleasure - I find her narrative voices rather pleased with themselves - but don't tell anyone!

LaQueen Wed 19-Jun-13 16:17:35

[sighs with relief, and goes to sit next to Nit ...]

Spero Wed 19-Jun-13 16:18:55

I love JA's turn of phrase. I use 'an unhappy choice lies before you' in so many contexts.

LaQueen Wed 19-Jun-13 16:20:56

I do confess I like her phrase 'The visit was made all the more enjoyable, for being cut deliciously short' (or words to that effect).

Lazyjaney Wed 19-Jun-13 16:21:47

Sorry Spero, I was unclear - as I understand it you can convert to Law from a Batchelor degree, I was wondering what happens where 2 people, both now with a Law conversion from a good RGUni, have different initial BA degrees, one from RGGoodUni, one from ExPolyUni.

i.e what happens to kids who go to an unfancied Uni, do well, then get a Postgrad or Conversion etc from a good RG Uni, vs those who were at a Good Uni the whole time?

motherinferior Wed 19-Jun-13 16:32:02

'I am not considering matrimony, especially as I am not in want of money at the moment.'

Dawndonna Wed 19-Jun-13 16:41:19

Crikey, Spero, My brother is a barrister, good job he qualified before 1994!

Dawndonna Wed 19-Jun-13 16:44:18

LaQueen I can respect Austen, as I say, she changed writing styles for 200 odd years. Doesn't mean I have to like her.

mother I adore Angela Carter, Austen is the one thing with which I disagree!

Xenia Wed 19-Jun-13 16:46:25

Lazy, it's the firstr university which counts. Eg my daughter was a Bristol for an unreltaed first degree. The places you go after like BPP in London to do the conversion course will take anyone who can pay just about whoever thick they are and however unlikely they will ever do well in law and those places do not really count in terms of their prestige. The hard bit is getting into a good university for your first degree. SO it can be quite hard to make up for bad A levels and a university for a first degree from somewhere it is dead easy to get into.