Desperate graduates rush to study ‘masters of panic’ after job refusals | Masters



Thousands of students are applying to take “panic master’s” courses after receiving no response to their job applications in the increasingly shrinking pool of graduate positions.

Universities, including UCL, Cambridge and Edinburgh, told the Observer they saw substantial increases, between 10 and 20%, in the number of UK students applying for postgraduate studies in the fall.
Mary Curnock Cook, an admissions expert who is chair an independent commission on students, said the rise is due to “a collapse in confidence in the graduate job market”. There is a backlog of applications from graduates who struggled to secure positions last year or whose internships were canceled, she said.

“That’s what causes this idea of ​​the panic master,” she said. “A lot of what I’m hearing is that people are stressed out about making tons of applications and not even getting recognition. It is a stain on employers that they do not treat their candidates with common courtesy.

Curnock Cook added that while master’s degrees are generally a worthwhile investment as they are favored by many employers and result in higher average wages, she advised against “making hasty decisions for the wrong reasons,” d ‘especially since the loans available for postgraduate studies do not cover living expenses.

Dan Barcroft, head of admissions at the University of Sheffield, said postgraduate studies were particularly popular among undergraduates planning to stay at the university, with the number of applications increasing by 35%. “People are choosing to stay in education at a time of economic turmoil,” he said.

Lily Patrick, a student union representative at the University of Leicester who organized focus groups with the commission’s finalists, said students feared they had been unable to develop necessary soft skills such as communication and teamwork during the pandemic.

“There is a lack of professional preparation and self-confidence. It is not only a question of doing a master’s degree to acquire skills but also of having the opportunity to do extracurricular activities [activities], “she said.” There was also a perception that employers expected students to have these transferable skills before entering the workforce. “
A focus group participant said, “I know so many people who, due to stress, lack of communication, and double the normal work, have just applied for a master’s degree to take some of the pressure off. “

Top employers graduating from last year remove vacancies by almost half, although some jobs were restored this year. There are particular shortages of entry-level positions in sectors most affected by the pandemic, including travel, hospitality and retail.

A recent poll of more than 2,000 students by the consulting service Perspectives showed that more than a third of university finalists change their career plans due to the pandemic, while two thirds who are considering postgraduate studies choose to do so to change careers.

Almost half of university students said they did not feel prepared for the job market, citing lack of experience, vacancies and their skills as the main obstacles.

A postgraduate degree is often a popular response among graduates in times of crisis. A 2009 NUS survey found that nearly a third of students were considering postgraduate studies to protect themselves from the effects of the 2008 financial crisis.

Mickayla now plans to study apparel technology instead of a career in the creative arts. Photograph: handout

Mark Corver, a DataHE admissions expert, said early data from the Student Loans Company suggested there was a 15% increase in the number of English students getting the postgraduate loan in 2020-21, the double the increase in recent years. Combined with a growing and younger undergraduate enrollment and uncertainty over the number of international students, this could cause 30% of UK graduates to continue their education, he said.

Mickayla graduated from the University of the Arts in London with a BA in Textile Design. Her internship at the National Theater was canceled due to the pandemic, so she enrolled in a degree in apparel technology to work in the fashion industry, which was not as badly affected by the pandemic as the creative arts. “I still live at home with my mom, desperate to get on with my life,” she said.

Mairi McWilliams is completing her LLB at West Scotland University and applied to Strathclyde for postgraduate courses after being unable to find work as a paralegal or administrative assistant in a law firm and having internships canceled. She is particularly frustrated with large companies, which she says treated her applications “like a number.”

“It’s a huge financial and academic commitment, because I feel like I’ve done all the work over the last few years, and now I’m just going to do a master’s degree because I can’t find a job,” she declared.


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