Research claims ‘British graduates have spent £65 billion on unused degrees’

The Independent is reporting new research that claims British graduates have spent tens of billions of pounds on university degrees they haven’t put to use in their current job roles.

Training company The Knowledge Academy recently carried out a study of 2,000 graduates to find 64 per cent felt their degree was not relevant to their current role.

While results showed the average graduate polled left university with an average debt amount of £13,292 – with approximately 12 million graduates in the UK, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS) – the huge sum can be estimated at just over £65 billion being spent on unused degrees.

Results also highlighted how just 36 per cent of graduates found their degree relevant to their current career choice, while 67 per cent felt they could have got their current job without even having their degree.

As well as this, six in ten said they never had to provide any proof they even had a degree in order to get their job, and over a fifth felt their employer had “no clue” what qualifications they actually had.

Co-founder of The Knowledge Academy, Barinder Hothi, described the statistics as “shocking,” and said: “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 over the knowledge gained from their degree, one has to ask: is it really worth it?”

More at: British graduates have spent £65 billion on unused degrees, research reveals


Is it really fair to conclude that money spent on these degrees has been wasted just because the graduates can’t see that it has helped them? Might they underestimate the impact the education has had in turning them into the people they have become and who were subsequently selected for their jobs?

That said, as regular readers will know I have often questioned whether our higher education system is still fit for purpose or offers enough real value to our young people, so I can see where they are coming from too.

What do you think?

Please let us know in the comments or via Twitter…

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Categories: 2-7, Employment, Higher Education and Secondary.


  1. peterabarnard

    SchoolsImprove …and there’s the million dollar question that holds schools by the short and curlies…

  2. andylutwyche

    SchoolsImprove Unless degrees have some kind of exclusivity then many will be a waste of £; MPs deciding to get majority to uni the issue

  3. andylutwyche

    SchoolsImprove Market is flooded with graduates now as politicians decided uni was the only way to go 15 years ago. Well done Westminster

  4. Suetpud

    Why have we become so obsessed with education being directly related to work? Employability is important but it’s not the be-all and end-all of education. The reality is that the number of graduate jobs out there are limited, so of course our early employment doesnt always link to the degree we took. Often we end up taking menial jobs that lead us to our careers further down the line. I doubt many of us end up in the field we took our degree in. Just another bit of propaganda to put the working classes off the idea of educating their kids. God forbid we continue to have an educated, questionning, workforce.

  5. A degree should be valued for its educational merit not just its utility as a gateway to employment especially as graduate jobs will be increasingly outsourced to parts of the world where graduates will work more cheaply.

  6. rightnoteasy

    SchoolsImprove …maybe not using their degrees in current job,but any education has some intrinsic value#any education is valuable

  7. neilayates

    SchoolsImprove How do you quantify unused? Mine has not helped me secure employment but has massively informed me in education/governance

  8. Dai_James1942

    SchoolsImprove Taxpayers of Worcestershire & a merchant bank paid for me to go to Oxford for nothing: wasn’t worth it #GreatEducationHoax

  9. kathrynsa1

    SchoolsImprove Sorry you are going – will miss seeing the reports of #ATLConf2016 & all the education news everyday. Come back soon!

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