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Are university degrees really ‘worth the money’?

A group of graduating student wearing caps.
A group of graduating student wearing caps.

A university degree costs tens of thousands of dollars, but the expected earning capacity is supposed to more than make up for the outlay.

However, a new survey has found half of Australian students don’t think their degree is worth the money it costs.

The research by Studiosity found that despite this, most (93 per cent) students believe a degree does increase chances of securing a job in their field.

Why the low confidence?

The issue is that 55 per cent of students think it will take too long to pay off their student loan, 19 per cent don’t feel job ready and 16 per cent believe they could have just learnt everything in the workplace.

Additionally, students were unhappy with rising university fees and inadequate study support.

“With the cost of higher education continuously on the rise, proving consistent value adding opportunities will be a challenge for universities, not only in Australia but globally,” the CEO of Studiosity, Michael Larsen said.

And the chief academic officer at Studiosity, professor Judyth Sachs added: “University is a significant investment and students in Australia are divided when considering the value they receive.”

“More than just the degree”

However, the data interestingly revealed that a significant number of students are not only attending university simply to receive their qualification, but to develop and improve their life and soft skills related to teamwork and organisation, Sachs said.

She referenced individual students’ responses, which had highlighted the importance of a university degree outside of the bare academic qualification.

“It’s more than just the degree and education, it’s also developing essential life skills such as responsibility, organisation, teamwork, etc.” a male student from Victoria explained.

It means universities need to understand and respect what their students want from their degrees, Larsen said, arguing that improvements in study resources and feedback opportunities could have significant dividends.

“When universities respond to this feedback and implement appropriate initiatives, the levels of student experience will increase,” he said.

“By constantly keeping the student top of mind and understanding their varying needs, universities will be able to go from strength to strength in providing a seamless and invaluable student experience.”

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