Making the decision to study for an MBA or a PhD is not an easy career choice, but it is widely considered to be a sensible step if you want to maximise your future earning potential.
Although the circumstances which lead to someone taking a postgraduate qualification will be unique and their motivation personal, there is a shared commonality in knowing that you are investing for your future.
However, the effects of the pandemic on the UK economy and the labour market, means that many people in higher education who are preparing to enter into employment are understandably concerned about their career prospects.
Is the Covid-19 pandemic likely to squeeze postgraduate incomes?
The question you may be asking is to what extent is the Covid-19 pandemic likely to squeeze postgraduate incomes? The latest figures from the Department for Education suggest that the annual median salary of a postgraduate in the UK is £42,000. This is £8,000 higher than a graduate and £17,000 more than a non-graduate.
However, a new report from the Institute of Fiscal Studies (IFC) has found a large variation in earnings among postgraduate students, which casts doubt over the notion that a postgraduate degree is a guaranteed route to higher earnings. In fact, the results of the research show that while a master’s in business and law could be worth up to 15% in extra earnings, those taking arts postgraduate courses could find themselves worst off.
Assess the long-term benefits.
For anyone considering postgraduate education, the events of the past 12 months will have sharpened their thoughts when it comes to assessing the long-term benefits. The outbreak of Covid-19 may lead to some short-term uncertainty but the effects it will have on the long-term average earnings of the most qualified could be relatively marginal given the IFC’s findings
Therefore, the greatest consideration should not necessarily be given to evaluating the impact of the pandemic on postgraduate outcomes, but in understanding how the subject you choose to pursue has the potential to determine future earnings.
Postgraduate education continues to rise.
For the past 20 years, the appeal of postgraduate education has been steadily rising and there are now more than 350,000 students beginning a postgraduate course in the UK every year. It is likely that this number will continue to rise in 2021 despite the changes universities and other educational institutions have had to make this year to teaching practices.
Plot your path and stand out.
But regardless of whether this number goes up or down, the competition for the most sought-after roles at the upper reaches of industry will remain fierce. In this type of market, a postgraduate degree can provide a clear point of distinction from your peers, and this will continue to set you apart from others in the eyes of many employers.
Therefore, the question for anyone contemplating embarking on this journey, is perhaps not whether the pandemic will affect the outcome of your studies, but how should you plot a path through it to increase your employability and maximise your career opportunities?