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Are engineering degrees offering undergraduates value for money?

Universities play a fundamental role in the economic and social development of the UK. Businesses and society benefit hugely from a well-educated graduate workforce.

Yet despite this, the decision by the government to allow universities to charge up to £9,000 a year in tuition fees from the academic year of 2012-13, perplexed many students and their parents/carers alike. Especially so, when they considered the sizeable amount of debt they would accumulate from completing a degree at the higher tuition rates.

With a new academic year due to begin soon and the tuition fees now a maximum £9,250 annually, how do students (not swayed by the price hikes) feel about the value they are receiving from their degree experience?

In a recent survey conducted by market research firm YouGov, 62% of 857 students believe “the standard of education and the wages graduates earn are not enough to warrant the cost of English/Welsh university degrees.”

Interested in higher education, training and qualification provider TheKnowledgeAcademy.com analysed the latest findings from ‘Higher Education Policy Institute’, who surveyed 14,046 full-time undergraduate students to discover which university subjects/courses have the best ‘value for money’.

The Knowledge Academy found that those studying medicine and dentistry (62%) think they are the respective courses which deliver the best value for money. Thereafter, students on veterinary sciences and agriculture (56%) based degrees believe they are getting the next best return on their educational investment. In third position, 55% of students enrolled on a physical sciences discipline, think it offers them good value for money.

With regards to engineering, 41% of undergraduates feel their engineering degree is giving them good ‘value for money’.

Focusing on linguistics, a greater amount of those learning non-European languages (39%) consider it to be more financially worthwhile than those on European languages and literature (32%) degrees. Linguistics and classics were sandwiched between the two, with 35% of those learning and practising the respective subjects, rating it as having good value for money.

On the other end of the scale, undergraduates studying business and administrative degrees (28%) feel they are gaining the least ‘bang for their buck’. Slightly above, just 29% of students on social, historical or philosophical studies – equally think their courses offer some sort of value for money.

Surprisingly, technology (30%) was in a unique position when compared to rest of the STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) subjects, as it experienced a much lower percentage of students stating they are get good value for money from their (technology-related) course.

Joseph Scott, a spokesperson from the TheKnowledgeAcademy.com commented: “It’s interesting to see from the point of students if their chosen university course is actually giving them value for money or not at the increased tuition fee rates. This research certainly shows that there are degree disciplines which are giving undergraduates who are studying them more for their money than others.

“But within the context of ‘value’, it is important to know that students tend to factor in teaching quality, course content, lecturer contact hours and availability of learning resources into their assessment. Rightfully so, as it paints a clearer picture of what value for money really means to them. Similarly, if their course is meeting their expectations when considering the vast financial outlay, they are committing to by studying at university.”

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