Why do people go to university? Is it to get a degree in an area of study that interests them? Is it for the student experience? These reasons no doubt play a part in the decision-making process for most people, but ultimately there is something even more important.
Whether consciously thinking about it, or perhaps just intuitively understanding it, people go to university because they believe getting a degree will improve their life chances, particularly in terms of gaining good, meaningful and well-paid employment.
University websites rarely show the link between degrees and careers
The importance of post-graduate career destinations has become even more acute since the introduction of tuition fees. When a university education was free to students, it was possible to choose a degree without necessarily worrying too much about life after graduation. However, now that it comes with a cost, those thinking about going to university are having to think far more carefully about where a particular degree might take them at the end of it.
Yet, as important as the link between degrees and career destinations undoubtedly is, a random search of university websites shows that, by and large, whilst there is a tendency to promote the actual courses and the student experience, there is little in the way of showing where courses can lead.
But if young people are thinking much more about their destinations, wouldn’t it make sense to make the link between degrees and possible future careers much more explicit?
How can we demonstrate the link from our careers to career destinations?
If that sounds reasonable, at least in theory, it still begs the question: how exactly can this be put into practice? The answer is threefold.
Firstly, the key to the effective highlighting of careers destinations lies in being able to give prospective students detailed information about the career possibilities out there. Specifically, this means answering the following questions:
– How much current and projected employer demand is there for an occupation?
– What are its lower, median and higher-end salary ranges?
– What are the core competencies or skills of an occupation that employers are looking for?
– What other occupations exist, which require a similar skillset and qualification?
Secondly, this detailed insight must then be linked back to the university’s courses, so that prospective students can see clearly how doing a certain degree can lead to their success.
And thirdly, both the careers insight and the link to courses needs to be integrated seamlessly into the university’s website, so that anyone searching for a course is shown detailed information about the careers that are associated with it, and anyone searching for a career is not only shown the detailed insight, but also the degrees offered by the university which will help them get there.
What are the benefits of taking this approach?
There are two great benefits to be had from taking this approach. Firstly, as mentioned above, the reality of tuition fees, not to mention the huge competition amongst graduates for graduate jobs, is forcing students to think increasingly hard about their post-university destination before they choose which university to attend and which degree to do. By showing them objective career details on your website, together with a clear link to those careers, what you are doing is demonstrating how your university can be a pathway to their success. Secondly, by charting this pathway, you have a fantastic opportunity to market your university and your courses as the go-to place for certain careers.
In an environment where young people need more assurance that the years they spend at university will benefit them after they graduate, integrating detailed careers insight and course information into the website is likely to become an increasingly vital part of how universities promote themselves to potential students.