Grads opt for further study to stand out

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More and more graduates have signed up for post-graduate qualifications in a bid to stand out from the pack.

Universities have seen a sharp rise in applications for post-graduate degrees as graduates want to set themselves apart from the pack. Applications for Master's programmes and similar post-graduate qualifications have risen by 22% according to a report in The Times. The number of post-graduate students in 2016-17 stands at 90,600.

The numbers, collated by the Higher Education Funding Council, show nearly three quarters of the Master's students are under the age of 25. Another cause for the rise in Master's students could be the new student loans system which provides support for students to continue their studies.

University of Sheffield Pro Vice-Chancellor for Learning and Teaching, Professor Wyn Morgan, told The Times students want to offer employers something different from the majority.

"The discussion from student is how they can differentiate themselves from the pack. The numbers have gone up since loans came in, there was a lot of pent-up demand," Morgan says.

"But we get confusing messages from employers, with some saying students aren't ready for work after university and others saying they are great. I think really employers are much more relaxed about a second degree than students think."

Nick Hillman, the Director of the think-tank Higher Education Policy Institute agrees and told The Times it was a fantastic way to be ahead of the pack.

"First, [a second degree] is a good route into some careers where you need to stand out against other candidates for jobs."

"Secondly, as more and more people go to university, having a degree is less significant. If you want a sure fire ticket to the middle classes, which is what a degree used to be, then it helps if you have an MA or MSc too."

Image credit: Pablo Heimplatz