CREDIT: © tomwang Depositphotos

Brits have spent billions of pounds on university degrees they’ve never used following graduation, according to research.

CREDIT: © tomwang Depositphotos
CREDIT: © tomwang Depositphotos

A study of 2,000 graduates found 64 per cent felt their degree was not relevant to their current role.

While results showed the average graduate polled to have left university with £13,292 in debt overall.

With approximately 12 million graduates in the UK* – the astronomical sum can be estimated at 65 billion squandered on degrees not used.

Results also showed a quarter are in job roles that are completely different to the degree they completed.

But while many of those who chose to continue their studies didn’t end up using their final degree to get a job, 85 per cent claim the experience itself has set them up for life.

Barinder Hothi, Co-founder of The Knowledge Academy – one of the biggest training companies in the world – which commissioned the study, said:

“It’s shocking to see such statistics – the high cost of university is often considered necessary in order to progress in a particular career.

“But with most valuing the experience of university (such as making friends, managing a budget, etc) over the knowledge gained from their degree, one has to ask, is it really worth it?”

Results showed just 36 per cent found their degree relevant to their current career choice.

And 67 per cent feel they could have got their current job without having their degree.

In fact six in ten never had to provide any proof they even had a degree in order to get their job and over a fifth feels their employer has no clue what qualifications they actually have.

A third said the content of their degree and the subjects studied are entirely irrelevant to the work they do now.

While a quarter feel there aren’t even small elements of their degree that are helpful to them now.

Reactions were split when deciding the value of a degree overall – 49 per cent felt having their degree made it easier to get a job, but 51 per cent were unsure or felt it made no difference.


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49 per cent feel they would have been better off getting in a job earlier and working their way up.

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Which is perhaps why 62 per cent feel they chose the wrong career when they left school.

41 per cent of Brits who didn’t feel they used their degree went on to do further training for their current job.

In fact, tellingly, four in ten graduates polled (38%) wished they had done an apprenticeship instead.

While a similar number are seemingly discontent- over a third are currently considering re-training to do something more worthwhile than their current role allows.

However the life lessons of university still seem prominent – 85 per cent of those polled still felt university had made their life better, even if they aren’t using their degree.

The biggest reason for feeling university was beneficial was for the confidence it gave people, followed by lessons on generally setting up for life, how to budget and how to make friends.

Mrs Hothi added:

“University has become the expected path for many 17-18 year olds in the UK in recent years with alternatives such as apprenticeships or trainee roles being rarely discussed as an option. Without providing students with a good understanding of all the options available to them, some may find themselves graduating in a subject which is of no use to the career they want. With some finding that perhaps a trainee role would have provided them with the relevant work experience needed to give them an edge many expect a degree to have.”

The Knowledge Academy offers more than 50,000 job and skills training courses in 200 countries to customers including: the self-employed and SMEs, to blue-chips and multi-nationals like Rolls Royce, HSBC, British Airways, and Disney.

It offers a mixture of classroom-based education and digital learning, mostly IT, legal, finance, HR and business-related courses, but as diverse as Wildlife Training and Animation, to Psychology and Aviation.

£6,682 – AVERAGE STUDENT LOAN DEBT

£6,610 – AVERAGE TUITION DEBT

£13,292