The current financial crisis looks to be shaking up the way students see their university courses, a new study shows.

According to a survey, one in twelve UK third-year undergraduates now regrets their choice of degree. The survey of 1,041 students conducted by market research firm Opinionpanel Research found that, of the 357 final-year students polled, 8% wished they had chosen a different degree due to the financial climate. The figure was 4% for students across all years. One in 10 was unsure.

In a straw poll conducted by The Badger of 150 Sussex students in second and third years studying a range of degrees, 31% said they ‘sometimes’ regretted their degree choice and 3% ‘often’. When asked if they wished they had chosen a different course due to the current economic climate 5% said they did.

Six of the students asked suggested Law as a more useful degree to do – one English student said: ‘It would have been much wiser to study something specifically geared towards a certain career. I also think it’s less likely I’ll be able to afford a conversion course now.’ One student who changed from Business Studies to History this year said: ‘I often regret my decision. I think a Bsc would be more useful to me in the depleted job market.’

‘In The Badger’s straw poll of 150 Sussex students in second and third years, 31% said they “sometimes” regretted their degree choice and 3% said they “often” did’

The poll also suggests a general concern among students over what will happen when they leave the security of university life. Nationwide 46% of students believe their job prospects will be harmed “a bit” and 9% “a lot” by the economic crisis. Sussex students reflect this trend, 39% responding it will hurt their job ‘a bit’ and 10% saying ‘a lot’.

It is not only traditional academic subjects that are causing concern. A Physiotherapy student suggests that “people with injuries will decide to not pay to see a physiotherapist and just ignore the injury due to saving money, therefore slowing down business.”

But it appears that students’ main concerns may be immediate family commitments. One student said “I’ll find a job eventually. My father is being made redundant and that’s happening right now.”

But it appears that students realise that although recession is on the way, it will not last forever. A second year Politics student was optimistic:

“Bread might cost a few more pennies now but by the time I leave university the job market will have improved.” Indeed, many companies have learned from previous recessions that reducing one year’s graduate recruitment is a mistake, and instead look to the long term. Richard Freeborn, recruitment manager at HSBC, says, “We always look at our graduate recruitment numbers from the point of view of our needs for future senior managers, six or eight years down the line.”

Similarly, CDEC is keen to point out that any university degree will give students those invaluable ‘transferable skills’ desirable for a variety of careers. Femi Bola, head of employability at the University of East London, says it is important for graduates to think positively but her advice also suggests it may also make it necessary for them to alter their desired career path. “By the end of their degrees, students will have developed transferable skills for the workplace,” she said. “It shouldn’t be forgotten that graduates are the cheaper end of the employment chain. Their jobs may not be the ones that will be cut. Work still exists; it just may be in a different sector to the one that graduates anticipated. So while many students still enjoy their choice of degree regardless of its utility, when it comes to career choices they may not be so lucky.

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