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Digital Subscriptions > Prospect Magazine > Apr-18 > Is a degree still worth it?

Is a degree still worth it?


There is a new political fashion— “Eduscepticism.” The edusceptics dismiss higher education in a way they would not dare dismiss any other educational stage. In the past, the sceptics argued against raising the school leaving age to 16 saying it was a waste of time. The sceptics today are just as wrong. The evidence is overwhelming— going to university is good for you—and good for the rest of us.

Because we are again arguing about how to pay for university there is a focus on economic gains for individuals. Graduates enjoy higher employment rates and higher pay. The average graduate under 30 earns £25,000 as against £19,000 for a non-graduate.

But the economic benefits go much wider. Universities boost city economics—towns and cities from Chester to Exeter are reaping the benefits from having a growing university. Evidence from the United States shows that, in towns with lots of graduates, non-graduates earn more as well and the Exchequer gains from the increased tax. The OECD even uses the proportion of the workforce who are graduates as one of their indicators of an economy’s long-term growth rate.

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In Prospect's April issue: Four writers explain how our relationship with death has changed in as technological and medical advances have been made in recent years. Joanna Bourke explores how modern life is now able to live on through social media sites, Cathy Rentzenbrink explains how (referring to the case of her own brother) a “twilight zone,” in which someone is neither alive nor dead, has been created through medical advances. Michael Marmot argues that we are experiencing a change in regards to our life expectancy—over the course of a series of decades we have seen life expectancy increase, but what do recent decreases actually mean. Meanwhile, Philip Ball writes about his participation in an experiment to create a second brain from his own flesh. Elsewhere in the issues: Jane Kinninmont questions whether the Saudi Crown Price, Mohammed bin Salman, really knows what he’s doing, Daniel Howden charts how European attitudes to migrants might be changing and Jay Elwes asks: Does a Cornish mine hold the answer to questions about the UK’s green future?