Degrees to Boost Your Graduate Career Prospects

Degrees to Boost Your Graduate Career Prospects

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Updated May 19, 2023 Updated May 19

This article is sponsored by the University of South Wales.

According to the latest HESA Performance Indicator for Employment of Leavers 2013/14, many universities in the UK now have employability rates above 90%. This means that the vast majority of university graduates are in employment or further study within six months of graduation.

Graduate career prospects are now at the heart of education in many of the UK’s universities, with teaching increasingly informed by what happens in the real world. Employability programs include work placements, superior industry links and accreditations with professional bodies, which ensure courses have continuing relevance and quality, along with dedicated graduate careers services that can help you with long-term career planning.

Read on to find out how to choose a university with a strong focus on graduate career prospects, and how to ensure your time at university prepares you for the workplace.

Could studying abroad boost your career prospects? 
Studying abroad

In our globalized world, graduates with international experience will stand out to employers. A degree or postgraduate qualification is seen as an investment in your future, and universities want to make sure that your investment pays off. That’s why so many courses are now designed with employability in mind. What better way to start your graduate career than to have studied at a university that has put your employability needs at the core of their teaching philosophy, while also gaining that valuable international experience at the same time?

Moving away from home to study in another country is a big decision and you need to be confident that you are making the right choice. Choosing a university with a strong track record on graduate careers is one way to find the certainty that your investment – both financial and emotional – will pay off.

What graduate careers programs are offered by universities? 
Careers talk

At the University of South Wales, for example, students are regularly updated during the first few weeks and months on opportunities such as:

  • Attending seminars or workshops to explore your strengths, interests and motivations;
  • Online career profiling that allows you to reflect on the skills you currently have, those you wish to develop and strategies for doing this;
  • Visiting careers events, employer fairs and skills workshops;
  • Attending guest lectures from graduates who can give an insight into the industry.

Many degree courses at UK universities now include projects, and you may be able to conduct these in industry, which could lead to job opportunities when you graduate. Academic staff are committed to ensuring their lectures, seminars, tutorials and workshops are based on real organizational problems and are engaging and interesting for every student.

How important are work placements? 
Work placement

Wherever possible, universities will encourage students to undertake work placements during their studies, to complement learning and gain practical experience in a real working environment. There are many advantages for you, from gaining work-based skills to the possibility of improving your grades.

HM Jakir Hassan, from Bangladesh, studied a BA (Hons) Accounting and Finance at the University of South Wales and spent a one year placement at Atradius, a global leader in credit insurance and credit management. He explains, “Based in Cardiff, my placement year enabled me to apply the theoretical knowledge learnt at the university into a work setting, while experiencing the atmosphere and pace of the office place. It also helped me strengthen my self-assurance and I learnt how to work confidently under pressure and complete tasks in a systematic and accountable way.

“Being part of this global trade-related business environment was fascinating. It has really developed my interpersonal and self-management skills. I would undoubtedly recommend the course to prospective students.”

How can you tell if a university is focused on employability? 
Career prospects

Today, universities know it is essential to keep up with the ever-changing working environment, and courses are designed for the 21st century. An employability-focused university will have close links with relevant employers and industries. Companies like British Airways, General Electric, Sony and Tata, for example, inform universities about what’s going on, so they can design courses that give students the skills they’re looking for.

Lots of courses will have 'official’ industry approval too, through accreditations from a host of professional bodies, including ACCA, the British Computer Society (BCS), Chartered Institute of Purchasing and Supply (CIPS), the British Psychology Society (BPS), the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) and CILECT – the association of the world’s major film and television schools.

There are many reasons to go to university – studying a subject that fascinates you, becoming independent, making new friends and more. But there’s one thing that’s vitally important, whatever subject you’re studying: what will you do when you graduate? As well as specialist knowledge in your chosen field, university will also give you the practical skills to apply that knowledge to the workplace. So whatever you choose to study, from social work to surveying, accounting to art, law to logistics, you’ll not only graduate with a world-recognized degree, but also the real-life practical skills that you’ll need to get ahead.

This article was originally published in December 2015 . It was last updated in January 2020

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