The real divide in the jobs market


3:58 pm - February 27th 2012

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contribution by Faiza Shaheen

The last ten days have seen debate rage about unemployment. And with 2.64 million out of work it’s no surprise.

But with all the controversy surrounding workfare we’re at risk of ignoring the other great divide in the labour market – between graduates and non-graduates.

For people who don’t attend university, the jobs market is pretty bleak.

Non-graduates account for the majority of the population and are more than twice as likely to be unemployed. But the problem is not just about quantity – it’s the quality of jobs that truly condemns non-graduates to a grim future.

For those without graduate degrees, job quality is worst for the hospitality sector, judging by a range of criteria. In a piece of research released by the nef this week – we highlight that even at the top end a non-graduate earns less than £25,000 a year, considerably less than the median graduate starting wage of £29,000 a year.

The care sectors also perform badly, with those looking after our children and elderly paid peanuts with limited career opportunities.

Some may say we can’t do anything about these wage packets – after all we need to compete with China. But, unless I’ve missed something, there’s no danger that our elderly are about to be shipped off for cheaper care elsewhere.

So where are the good jobs? Manufacturing, construction, wholesale and distribution. The only snag is that employment levels are also set to decline in manufacturing. Oh, and all these sectors have male-dominated workforces, which might have been OK if hospitality and social care weren’t skewed towards female workers.

The government’s answer so far has been to up-skill non-graduates, arming them with NVQ3s. But we found that someone with no formal qualifications in transport manufacturing would get paid more than someone with an NVQ3 qualification working in the hospitality sector.

Blanket skills targets are not going to work, we need a sector-specific approach to deal with the bottlenecks to better wages within particular industries.

While some may say current circumstances make any job a good job, it’s telling that more than half of the children living in poverty in the UK are from working families. Working tax credits and increased demands on public services from those in poverty mean bad jobs end up costing the state anyway.

It would make more sense to tackle the problem at its root and get companies to pay decent wages – while adopting an industrial strategy to create new work opportunities.


Faiza Shaheen is Economic Inequalities Researcher at New Economics Foundation. Their research – Good jobs for non-graduates – is released today.

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Reader comments


How many graduates do you know who are earning anything like £29,000 as a starting salary? No-one I went to uni with does. We are all in the same boat as everyone else because many degrees are of little value to employers. Look again at the figures and then write another report. This time, make the distinction between a) science, law and Oxbridge graduates, *especially those working in London*, and b) everybody else.

“we highlight that even at the top end a non-graduate earns less than £25,000 a year, considerably less than the median graduate starting wage of £29,000 a year. ”

Like Alex I would seriously question this.

I think the distinction would carry more weight if we could distinguish between different courses – I can easily see how graduates of law, medicine, engineering etc can earn decent salaries within a few years of getting qualifications (although I’d question whether these benefits happened immediately – even the best paid jobs require you to start out doing the water carrying and working long hours), but degrees in the arts barely effect anything. There is also the culture of internship to consider.

It would make more sense to tackle the problem at its root and get companies to pay decent wages – while adopting an industrial strategy to create new work opportunities.

You could do a lot more to help by improving the secondary education system so that a 16-year old leaves school with the ability to read and write properly instead of needing to go to university to learn what most 40+ people would have learnt when they were at secondary school.

No company wants to hire a school leaver today because frankly, they are unemployable in the state that schools send them out to seek work.

Fix that, and the rest will follow.

4. Chaise Guevara

@ 1 and 2

I too did a double-take at the £29,000 figure, but that doesn’t mean the author is wrong. I know lots of grads, but nobody who walked into law/city jobs. I imagine a few of these, plus rather more people getting into London graduate schemes paying in the low- to mid-£20,000s, could easily pull the average up.

I know lots of grads, but nobody who walked into law/city jobs.

1st year trainee salaries at the better City law firms range between £36-40,000. US firms tend to pay slightly more – and a lot more on qualification.
http://rollonfriday.com/InsideInfo/UKCityFirms/tabid/68/Default.aspx

But with all the controversy surrounding workfare we’re at risk of ignoring the other great divide in the labour market – between graduates and non-graduates.

This is why I get so pissed off when people bandy around the term meritocracy as if it was an intrinsically fairer system than oligarchy.

And the irony is that – as Michael Young argued in the dystopia from which the term comes – it was pioneered by the civil service – the public sector – rather than the private sector..

Depends what you mean by “fair”. If you mean “The people who are better at jobs get rewarded for it.” then it’s perfectly fair. If you mean “Everyone is equally well off.” then it’s not fair at all.

As to the original point – if we have certain sectors that pay better, and have less women then I’d say that government’s role is to find out why, and see if they can make it easier for women to get jobs in those sectors.

8. Chaise Guevara

@ 5 TimJ

Exactly – although now I see that the figure is median rather than mean, I’m back to thinking it’s high again.

When you say “get companies to pay decent wages” I guess you mean to pay decent wages to non-graduate staff in particular? It’s a every worthy goal but do you have any ideas for doing this? We all agree it would be great if jobs which currently pay low salaries paid better salaries.

@8 – yes its median not mean- I don’t doubt the city and law firm graduate jobs have good starting salaries, but I’d be very surprised if they even made up 0.1% of the graduate jobs nationwide. Let alone having half the nationwide graduate starting salaries being over 29k.

At the very least I want some breakdown of these stats by sector, region and type of subject studied.

Predictably, graduate earnings depend on the degree subject – unsurprisingly, graduates with some degree subjects tend to be better paid than others.This reports average graduate earnings by degree subject as compared with the earnings of non-graduates based on data from 2008/09:
http://www.thecompleteuniversityguide.co.uk/careers/what-do-graduates-earn/

The crunch questions are why are employers prepared to pay more for graduates than for non-graduates and, despite that, why are there generally higher employment rates for graduates across most peer-group countries compared with non-graduates? My best guess is that employers tend to regard degrees as a better test of personal competence and commitment than the usual run of school leaving exams so they are willing to pay extra and even more so than for those who left schools at 16 without the benchmark of 5 good GCSE, including maths and English.

Depends what you mean by “fair”. If you mean “The people who are better at jobs get rewarded for it.” then it’s perfectly fair. If you mean “Everyone is equally well off.” then it’s not fair at all.

People aren’t rewarded for being better at their jobs, they are rewarded for being in better jobs, i.e. jobs that are offer pretty comfortable life styles.

Fair doesn’t mean ‘equally well off’ – it means rewarded commensurate to the time and effort expended, for the risks they take with their own safety, for the social good which comes from that work, and inversely proportunate to the social costs: so a fairer system would reward road sweepers and bus drivers higher than, say, advertising executives who contribute little.

People who currently rake money in by playing the stock market or as landlords would get jack shit, and those who pollute the environment would have to pay off the debt they have already accrued.

I completely agree that the divide is hugely significant. We are undoubtedly in the middle of an extreme unemployment crisis but it seems to be the newly unemployed middle classes (graduates) who have a voice. This blog ahbess.blogspot.com explores further the notion that we in this country encourage the belief that ‘a job’s a job and you’re lucky to have one, any one’ and also the possibility that while it is an awful situation for graduates at the moment, it might be a temporary situation whereas the under-skilled and non-graduates who were unemployed before this crisis will continue to be so after unless we radically alter the system which allows a few to ‘succeed’ on the back of others toil and lack of opportunity.

Some may say we can’t do anything about these wage packets – after all we need to compete with China. But, unless I’ve missed something, there’s no danger that our elderly are about to be shipped off for cheaper care elsewhere.

Seriously, don’t give the fuckers ideas. Those Chinese containers are currently returning home empty.

But why are graduates paid more than non-graduates in the same kinds of jobs according to that report linked @11 ? We don’t usually expect employers to pay than they need to so why do they do it?

It has come to this
Vacant, grey faces look round with no interest in life as I walk through the automatic doors.
It is nearly time to ‘sign-on’. Signing away 40 years of life. Why does this place remind me of an accident and emergency department? Casualties of life? Some with terminal conditions others with the hope of a cure?
I’m afraid I am in the first category. What do they do with geriatrics now? Ironically, they used to be put into buildings that were once workhouses. Today it’s an interview with a patronising official, younger than my daughter, telling me that age discrimination doesn’t exist. Asking me whether I have been looking for jobs. I tell her I have now applied for over 60! I have attended over 25 interviews (my CV doesn’t state my age). Metaphors like ‘dynamic’, ‘forward looking’ and ‘energetic’ appear on job adverts. What do they mean? They mean below 50 years of age. Why don’t they state that? Oh, of course, age discrimination. But she says employers are not allowed to discriminate, it’s against the law. So is tax evasion but accepted by the establishment if you can get away with it.
I have a good CV. I am a Chartered Safety and Health Practitioner with over 20 years of experience. I attained the position of group manager for a national firm. I tick all of the boxes. This gets me an interview. Great!
As soon as I walk through the door their faces drop and plastic smiles appear. So let’s go through the motions now that you are here. After all you will have travelled 134 miles at a cost of £114.00. Interview, psychometric tests, an inspection tour and a presentation. Good work! My years of experience have come to the fore. Impressive hey?
Maybe. But you haven’t ticked all of the boxes. You don’t fit our ‘culture’. Yes, that’s right. Culture!
Another metaphor they seem to use nowadays.
A job, any job will do. What about a job I can do standing on my head and at half the wage I am used to? Sorry, you are over qualified. There must be something wrong with you. Why would you be interested anyway?
It’s a job!
Do I now look at B&Q? They employ older persons don’t they? Do I rewrite my CV and discount my experience and qualifications? Is it as if I never had that life? Was it all for nothing?
This sounds like giving in to the pressure I feel but I need to be a useful part of society and earn some money.
Anyway, back to the A&E.
Aging comes to us all, if we are lucky. We are told we will have to work longer in the future. How do we do this when we are discriminated against? When we are not allowed treatment only a bed to wait for the inevitable.
It doesn’t give you much hope or belief in the system does it?

@16, Dale

It is stupid of employers to legalistically discriminate against you! we live in a hitech civilisation in which you could live – in good mental & physical health – to over a century.

What those stupid people don’t understand, is that our species survived crises in the past through us all pulling together, those that had divide ‘n rule concepts (of whichever form) ended up in the dustbin of history.

I would combine your experience with a younger person’s technological savvy & flexibility (assuming there, apologies if you see it as patronising) after all mutual 1 on 1 mentoring helps strengthen both.

@15. Bob B: “But why are graduates paid more than non-graduates in the same kinds of jobs according to that report linked @11 ?”

Partly because it is a crap piece of analysis.

If you take the column labelled “Graduate salary” and measure the crude average, ignoring the fact that ten times many UGs study Psychology as Veterinary Science, you get the report’s average salary figure. It is a heavily weighted average.

Or consider a couple of rows:
General Engineering £24,937 £24,246 47%
Mechanical Engineering £24,337 £14,764 49%
Electrical and Electronic Engineering £22,897 £18,214 43%

I always understood that Mechanical Engineering was “General Engineering”, so there is obviously something wrong there. Then there is the fact that Electrical and Electronic Engineering UGs have a better career average income than Mechanical Engineering UGs according to historical studies (Electrical and Electronic Engineering UGs tend to be good mathematicians).

Apparently 9% of Medicine students do not have an income after graduation. Would that correspond to the 9% of medics who pursue post grad education or voluntary work? Becoming better doctors?


I would not argue that graduates of some subjects, once settled into career progression, do better than non-graduates. But getting into a career is not easy, hence the “graduate job” employment rate in that table. Whatever “graduate job” is supposed to mean.

For a few liberated souls, the motivation for studying History of Art is the joy of the subject. That is why study of non-vocational degrees is important.


I reject Faiza Shaheen’s approach in the OP. If there is significant graduate unemployment, and if graduates are competing for jobs below their perceived skill level, there may be several problems. I suggest that one of these is over emphasis on graduate qualification and under emphasis of career development. Spread out the cost of education over a few years while you work out what you want to do.

What do you think determines wages?

Companies just deciding how mean the want to be?

It’s a competitive world. Globalization has destroyed most of Britain’s manufacturing. That’s why the highest unemployment is in the manufacturing heartland of the West Midlands.

And you think a failing industrial sector just needs to be got to pay decent wages.

LOL

You either need a tariff wall or you have to drive wages down to the global rate, which is about $400 a month for manufacturing workers in Asia, with greatly inferior workplace health and safety standards to those that apply in Europe.

So come on: make the decision. What are you for?

If you’re for globalization then you’re going to have to compete globally, which means creating a level playing field for manufacturers, which means much lower industrial wages. This can be achieved with wage subsidies, a scheme for which I have outline here.

Such a scheme provides those with the least skills an opportunity to acquire workplace experience and gradually increase the market value of their labor. Failing that, they’ll have to live by the crumbs from the bankers’ tables, or simply starve.

@19. CanSpeccy: “You either need a tariff wall or you have to drive wages down to the global rate, which is about $400 a month for manufacturing workers in Asia, with greatly inferior workplace health and safety standards to those that apply in Europe.”

You may have noticed that LibCon is a UK blog and that the UK gave up trade tariffs a while ago. Not 100%, of course, but in the 1970s when Japanese car manufacturers imperilled UK manufacturers, imports were restricted by agreement.

One alternative to driving down the wages of employees who manufacture widgets is to stop making widgets and to do something else.

” The care sectors also perform badly, with those looking after our children and elderly paid peanuts with limited career opportunities.

Some may say we can’t do anything about these wage packets – after all we need to compete with China. But, unless I’ve missed something, there’s no danger that our elderly are about to be shipped off for cheaper care elsewhere. ”

Those sectors are non-tradable and productivity in them usually does not improve. Nothing whatsoever to do with competing with China. Without an increase in productivity where would the increase in wages come from? A wage tends to have embedded in it information about the ease or difficulty of replacing the wage earner. I guess low wages for child and elderly carers is really saying the same thing as, they are easy to replace.

One could introduce a national licensing system for child and elderly carers. That would raise their wages, albeit there would be less of them. Moreover, the rest of us would be worse off by the same amount that the reduced group of licensed child and elderly carers were better off. That is pretty much how other rather rent seeking professions raise and maintain higher wages than the job is truly worth. The legal profession, accountants, dentists, pharmacists etc. One makes the job exclusive and that raises the compensation above the true value of the work being carried out.

15. Bob B

” But why are graduates paid more than non-graduates in the same kinds of jobs according to that report linked @11 ? We don’t usually expect employers to pay than they need to so why do they do it? ”

There is a very simple explanation. Lefties tend to constantly believe that people are underpaid for the jobs that they do. Except, when it is professions that they do not like and then they consider them overpaid. Perhaps some people are underpaid. However, most economists recognise that firms pay more for labour than they really need to and that is puzzling behaviour.

The explanation comes down to asymmetric information. A worker knows more information about themselves than any employer could ever realistically hope to know. Therefore, a worker knows if they earn their wage or they are a shirker whose production is less than their wage. Consider what happens when an employer advertises for labour. Everyone has a reservation wage which is the minimum wage that they would be prepared to work. Say you have job applicants called good workers who know that their work is worth £10 per hour. You have other job applicants called the shirkers who know that their work is only worth £6 per hour. Now, an employer knows that they can fill the job by offering £8 or even £6 per hour. However, by offering only £8 the employer will only get applications from the shirkers. The wage is below the reservation wage of the good £10 workers and they will not apply. Offer £10 and both the shirkers and the good workers will apply for the job. The employer then has as good a chance of employing a good worker as a shirker and only a shirker at the lower wage. Therefore, employers have an incentive to offer higher wages than they really need to offer to attract labour.

The same phenomenon applies to why employers now prefer to sack workers in economic downturns than cut wages. If they cut wages the workers who know through asymmetric information that they earn their wage are the most likely to leave. The shirkers will remain even at the reduced wage. However, laying off workers means that the employer has an equal chance of getting rid of bad workers as they have of losing good workers.

That is what was going on with Henry Ford and his $5 per week wage. You get all the best workers in that type of industry to apply to work for you rather than the competition. They worked hard to keep the job because they knew that they could not get similar wages elsewhere. Moreover, you weaken the competition by depriving them of the best workers.

Obviously there are lots of exceptions to these generalisations. However, that is broadly why employers pay more for labour than they would really need to if obtaining labour was the only objective.

How that fits in with many employers paying graduates more than non-graduates for often the same job is through signalling that helps to change the asymmetric information. The graduate is signalling to the employer that they are capable of applying themselves, commitment, certain cognitive skills. Through that signalling they are offering more information to an employer which helps to balance up the asymmetric information relationship. As a consequence, an employer will pay a premium.

22. Chaise Guevara

@ 18 Charlieman

“If you take the column labelled “Graduate salary” and measure the crude average, ignoring the fact that ten times many UGs study Psychology as Veterinary Science, you get the report’s average salary figure. It is a heavily weighted average.”

Ah-hah! I thought something was amiss. Cheers for doing the legwork.

19
We already do wage subsidies, they are called working-tax credits.
@20 has the right idea, if producers can’t make the product/service profitable because they cannot pay enough to attract the labour required they should do something different. Good old fashioned capitalism.

@21 Richard W: “Obviously there are lots of exceptions to these generalisations. However, that is broadly why employers pay more for labour than they would really need to if obtaining labour was the only objective.”

Thanks for that illuminating analysis showing how asymmetric information distorts markets – which presuambly derives from (Nobel laureate) George Akerof: The Market for Lemons – Quality Uncertainty and the Market Mechanism (QJE 1970) – where it was applied to the used car market:
http://www.econ.yale.edu/~dirkb/teach/pdf/akerlof/themarketforlemons.pdf

As the Ford premium wage case c. 1915 of $5/day shows, the distortion from asymmetric information extends well-beyond graduate employees but we still have the problem of explaining the widely observed higher employment rate of graduates at higher pay rates across most west European economies – Italy was the conspicuous exception in the last set of figures that I saw.

If anything, a degree narrows the extent of quality uncertainty as employers have better information for job applicants about their personal competences and their capacity for literacy and numeracy. I found it fascinating to see in successive reports of average salaries by degree subjects that economists regularly ranked somewhere near the top of the range after medics, whereas other social science graduates had notably lower rankings. However, the reports of economist salaries are probably distorted by the high salaries and bonuses paid to economists working in financial services – as are the salaries of so-called “rocket scientists” in financial services who were often recruited from among theoretical physicists working in academia.

When the New Labour government had that bright idea of moving the Office of National Statistics from London to Newport, a number of senior statisticians simply resigned their civil service jobs and took up better paid posts in the City. At the time, the BoE expressed concerns about whether the quality of official statistics could be adversely affected.

For family reasons, I’m remined of a piece in The Economist in the early 1980s about the careers of American students with philosophy PhDs where the annual output regularly exceeded post vacancies in academia. By the report, a disproportionate number took up careers in the American computer industry where personal capacities for analytical thinking and formal logic were valued qualities. This sharply contrasts with a populist view that philosophy degrees must be nearly worthless in the job market.

I still think non-graduates need to reflect on why the unemployment rate for graduates is lower and the employment rate higher, as compared with non-graduates, across most west European countries. By most projections, the numbers of unskilled manual jobs is destined to stagnate at best as such jobs are outsourced abroad to countries with lower labour costs, while those that remain are increasingly often taken by migrants, many of whom come from recently joined EU countries in eastern Europe. We really do need to worry about what is going to happen to the million of 16-24 year-olds classed as NEETS – not in education, employment or training.

@Charlieman

“One alternative to driving down the wages of employees who manufacture widgets is to stop making widgets and to do something else.”

Ah yes, we’ll do the design work while those Asian drones do the boring factory jobs.

Except it turns out Asian design is as good as ours, if not better.

Europe is finally facing a crunch. They are competing against a third world that has deployed more hands, more brains and huge amounts of capital to take Europe’s lunch, and the liberal-left cluelessly demands that increasingly uncompetitive companies in Europe, increase wages from ten or twenty times Asian rates to what, fifty times?

What’s happening is the end of an empire and a civilization. Europe is being overrun by third world immigrants, many with a contempt for European values, while the Asians systematically destroying Europe’s manufacturing base.

No there’s nothing superior about the European mind or civilization and Europeans who wish to avoid being swept away by the tide of history should start thinking survival, not bigger government.

For another perspective, try the ARM processor, designed in Cambridge but made abroad:

ARM is the industry’s leading provider of 32-bit embedded microprocessors, offering a wide range of processors based on a common architecture that deliver high performance, industry leading power efficiency and reduced system cost. Combined with the broadest ecosystem in the industry with over 900 Partners delivering silicon, tools and software, the wide portfolio of more than 20 processors are able to meet every application challenge. With more than 25 billion processors already created and in excess of 16 million shipped every day, ARM truly is The Architecture for the Digital World.
http://www.arm.com/products/processors/index.php

London competes with New York as the leading global financial centre. It has the largest global foreign exchange market by far:

“The worldwide volume of foreign exchange trading is enormous, and it has ballooned in recent years. In April 1989 the average total value of foreign exchange trading was close to $600 billion per day, of which $184 billion were traded in London, $115 billion in New York, and $111 billion in Tokyo. Twenty-one years later, in April 2010, the daily global value of foreign exchange trading had jumped to around $4.0 trillion, of which $1.85 trillion was traded daily in London, $904 billion in New York, and $312 billion in Tokyo.”
Krugman and Obstfeld: International Economics (Financial Times 9th ed.) p.355

Cars made by Japanese companies in Britain – Nissan, Toyota and Honda – are exported to Europe and even back to Japan. Foreign sales of Jaguar and LandRover – now owned by Tata, the largest manufacturing company in Britain – are booming.

“One could introduce a national licensing system for child and elderly carers. ”

A few more scandals of elderly people in care homes getting treated badly should do the trick there.

More examples of flourishing British software companies:

Hewlett-Packard is planning a sweeping overhaul of its businesses, agreeing to buy Autonomy Corp. for $10.3 billion and weighing a breakup that would unravel the much-debated Compaq Computer Corp. purchase. [August 2011]
http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-08-18/hp-said-to-be-near-10-billion-autonomy-takeover-spinoff-of-pc-business.html

Autonomy is a Cambridge-based software company.

Newcastle- based Sage is the third largest global supplier of enterprise resource software after Oracle and SAP.

Britain has the third or fourth largest video games development industry in the world.

Except it turns out Asian design is as good as ours, if not better. [links to Ascend D smartphone article]

The processor in that phone is based on ARM. The OS is Android.

We are heading towards a job market where a third of the workforce will be graduates and in which a majority of recent graduates will be women, who already comprise the majority of undergraduates in universities as the result of their better achievement in the A-level exams. Within a few years, the majority of GPs will be women, not men, as now.

I hope I’m wrong but I expect that there will be tensions in a job market in which the majority of recent graduates are women.

“One could introduce a national licensing system for child and elderly carers. ”

Yes, because my main complaint about childcare is that it just isn’t quite expensive enough.

These are the most recent official statistics for the Creative Industries, published December 2011:

– creative industries contributed 2.9% of the UK’s Gross Value Added in 2009, this is an increase from 2.8% in 2008

– 1.5 million people are employed in the creative industries or in creative roles in other industries, 5.1% of the UK’s employment

– exports of services by the creative industries accounted for 10.6% of the UK’s exports of services

– there were an estimated 106,700 businesses in the creative industries on the Inter-Department Business Register(IDBR) in 2011, this represents 5.1% of all companies on the IDBR
http://www.culture.gov.uk/what_we_do/creative_industries/default.aspx#Creative

I can only speculate on how much the combined services to British exports are made by Kate Winslet, Keira Knightly, Adele, Leona Lewis and Susan Boyle. None of them are graduates.

Here is a job site advertising 377 vacancies

Everyone of those jobs shares one important characteristic – they are all zero-hour contracts.

http://www.indeed.co.uk/Zero-Hour-Contracts-jobs

So, should you be able to get a degree, you will likely be better paid and have greater job security?

Can anyone indicate when this statement was not true (other than before the foundation of the early universities in Europe in the twelfth century…)?

The problem of unfairness here is more that the education system, through a hellish combination of political correctness (one of the few places this actually exists), centralisation (both locally and by central government) and lack of support for those trying to make a difference (hint – they’re called teachers and governors, and politicians of all stripes on occasion), is not giving all students an equally fair chance of getting to university in the first place.

“is not giving all students an equally fair chance of getting to university in the first place.”

Absolutely. Getting a place at uni depends on personal grades in the school leaving exams and some schools are regularly better than others at getting better grades for their students – as often mentioned, exam candidates at two maintained selective boys schools within walking distance of where I sit in an outer London borough have been getting better average scores at A-level than Eton. Famously, girls achieve better grades in the GCSE and A-level exams than boys. Unis subject to the greatest pressure for places from applicants are placed to insist on better grades from applicants in their school leaving exams. At uni, some students are better able to withstand academic pressures than others from course assignments and periodic assessment tests.

After all that, subsequent employment prospects and the average salaries of graduates are affected by the degree subject and the degree class.

The relevant policy question is what to do about all that. Before the reforms of 1992, which transmuted all polytechnics and Advanced Technology Colleges into universities, it used to be easier to take part-time degrees and diplomas through evening classes. In the run up to the the 1997 election, Gordon Brown was hawking around the notion of a University for Industry (UfI) with courses delivered online but Blunkett, as Blair’s first education minister, screwed that up. In Britain, unlike America, there are few if any fully-fledged university courses delivered online – compare MIT Open Course Ware
http://ocw.mit.edu/courses/

As also mentioned before, Sir Peter Mansfield FRS, now retired as professor of physics at Nottingham University, failed his 11+ exam and left school at 15 to become an apprentice bookbinder. He took evening classes to meet uni entry requirements and read for a physics degree at Queen Mary College, London, gaining first class honours. He was awarded a Nobel laureate in 2003 for his work in developing MRI scanners – which have proved to be a great boon for both diagnostics and research in healthcare.


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  7. Michael Edwards

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  12. BevR

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