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Poor advertising leads to false hope in arts graduates

Should government funding dictate our career choices? Source: Yannis Papanastasopoulos (via Flickr)

By Daniel O’Callaghan

Concerns have been raised regarding the employability of arts degree graduates. With these courses encompassing 1 out of 3 colleges in Cardiff University, it is surprising that such degrees could be providing false hope. Not every student has an undying passion for sciences, thus arts degrees need to be equally appreciated. With decline in the number of students studying ‘arts’ subjects at A level, a decrease of 24% since 2010, it is apparent that some students are aware of the ‘false hope’ that arts degrees provide, as stated by the Ofsted Chief this week. Such facts raise the question; are Science degrees the only way forward for students?

Amanda Spielman, chief inspector of schools in England, stated that “course adverts often listed potential jobs in the arts which are, in reality, unlikely to be available to the vast majority of learners.” Hand in hand with a degree in the arts are skills of critical and creative thinking, as well as skills of organisation. But who’s to say that these qualities of employability aren’t offered with Science degrees? With many BA baring individuals working in sectors such as retail, one can wonder why this degree may result in labouring behind a till. It would seem that arts degrees don’t provide skills that aren’t on offer with the sciences. Moreover, it is clear that the science degrees develop even more skills, giving them the edge.

However, is our education to blame? It could be suggested that Arts students are unaware of the skills they possess, and are therefore less likely to ‘sell themselves’ when attempting to take a certain career path. Furthermore, science students, generally, have a clearer career plan ahead of them and are more motivated in regards to knowing what they aspire to become. Unfortunately, more cases of uncertainties regarding career aspirations are prevalent in arts students. Education is, debatably, the catalyst for this ever-rising issue as the career prospects of science degrees are greatly highlighted in comparison to the arts. This being true from sixth form/college to higher education.

To answer the problem, I feel the education system needs to indistinguishably advertise the skills, career prospects and options that are available in arts and science degrees alike. There’s an unspoken pressure on students to believe that a science degree is perceived as more intelligent than an arts degree. We must terminate this stigma. They both entail different forms of intelligence and both kinds of students need to be equally respected, appreciated and represented. As a student who’s transferred from a science degree to an arts degree by choice, I feel it is imperative to utilise individuals who’ve become successful in their careers with an arts degree to advocate that there isn’t false hope for arts students, but rather; hope. Perhaps if course leaders engaged in greater contact with institutions for employability, they’ll be able to better shape their courses to create students with hope. Arts departments need to be revived. This is crucial as this idea of ‘false hope’ is the result of both the education system and the students that are unaware of how to present that they’re perfect for their aspiration.


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