One of the biggest outcomes of this year’s pandemic has been the extra time we’ve spent at home and the opportunity this has given us to reflect on life and many of its important decisions.
High on the priority list for many people has been what to do about work and their careers. In lots of cases, people have been forced into making difficult choices after redundancy or extended periods of furlough. For others, the decision to embark on a new career will have been a decision they made themselves.
Regardless of the reason why, it is clear that 2020 has been a defining year for many people in the UK. On a positive note, it’s given rise to an army of new entrepreneurs. Figures shows that between March and September of this year, nearly half a million new companies were launched, an increase of 44,500 on the same period in 2019.
Setting up your own business is one way of switching career, but for those who are thinking about going back to school, a masters, MBA or PhD is a natural next step. If you are considering studying for postgraduate degree in 2021, here are some of the key things you should know.
1 in 5 postgraduate students in the UK are over 30.
Giving up a career that you’ve worked hard to build and already studied, or trained for, is not an easy decision. It may even feel like a risky move and one that most people wouldn’t consider doing.
But postgraduate education is not a path that only undergrads in their early 20s take. Of the 2.3m postgraduate students in the UK, as many as one in five are aged 30 or over and figures show the number of older students is on the rise. At Lendwise, 30% of our borrowers are aged 30 plus, which is further evidence that many people choose postgraduate study later in their career.
Students’ age and experience varies between UK universities.
The age of PhD or MBA students in the UK varies, as does their level of work experience, but some universities tend to attract slightly older students than others. At the University of Oxford Said, the average MBA student is 28 years old and has five years’ work experience but at Cranfield School of Management the average rises to 32 and 10 years of experience. If it’s important to you to be surrounded by people with similar levels of experience and backgrounds, then you may want to consider the student demographics at the schools you’re interested in.
A leap of faith or a low-risk investment.
The decision to switch careers or to go back to school could be considered a leap of faith, particularly if you’re giving up a steady income and stable job. But for most people who choose to study for postgraduate degree they are doing so after much thought and consideration. As part of this research, it’s worth noting that latest figures show the current postgraduate employment rate in the UK is shy of 88% and it’s remained stable for more than a decade, including during and after the 2008 recession. Therefore, if you’ve done your due diligence then the decision shouldn’t be considered a gamble and instead thought of as low risk investment in your future.
Postgraduate earnings are on the rise.
Studying for a PhD or MBA does not guarantee that you will earn more money if you didn’t study for a postgraduate degree. However, the current average salary for a postgraduate in the UK is £42,000, which is significantly higher than the £34,000 average for graduates. The median salary of postgraduates has also been rising steadily over the past 10 to 15 years, up from £35,500 pre-2008.
Short-term uncertainty should not deter long-term plans.
It is difficult to know what impact the pandemic will have on the labour market in 2021 and while it is sensible to try and factor this into any future career decisions, it should not act as a barrier to a new career path. Some sectors have fared better than others this year and opportunities will be harder to come by in those that have been worst affected. Assessing the performance of the leading players in different industries and any potential, future employers is a sensible move. But ultimately, a postgraduate degree is a long-term investment and the benefits it brings will outlast any potential short-term threats.
 The Centre for Entrepreneurs Business Startup Index
 Higher Education Student Statistics: UK, 2018/19
 Financial Times’ Global MBA Rankings, 2018
 Graduate labour market statistics: 2018, Department for Education
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