A university degree used to be considered a ticket to success and pathway to a good job. Graduates were seen as the chosen ones; the cultured and elite who enjoyed wealth well beyond that of the average worker. Times have changed, and if trends continue on their present trajectory it won’t be long before graduates compete among themselves for the opportunity to flip burgers or collect trash. Welcome to the world of credential inflation.
University degrees becoming too common
With double the amount of full-time students at Australian universities compared to twenty years ago, competition for jobs upon graduation is fierce. The advantage of a degree holder in the job market is nullified when other applicants hold the same degree. The solution – attain even higher qualifications to gain the employment advantage. The result – the value of academic credentials has decreased due to credential inflation.
Within the past five years there has been a 10 percent increase in customer service and sales staff holding undergraduate degrees. Positions that were previously filled by high school graduates are now being fought over by university graduates. Some commentators believe university study should be reserved for the top few percent of educated society, and that most jobs can be learnt on-site under the guidance of a boss or mentor.
Knowledge solely as means for gaining wealth
It’s beginning to seem the desire to provide equal opportunities in higher education has resulted in a learning curve-ball that struck everyone out. Most study is exclusively aimed at accumulation of wealth these days anyway. From Governments, learning institutions, facilitators and students themselves, the word ‘knowledge’ might as well be replaced with ‘money’ as the means and the end of education.
In a dog-eat-dog world, it is supply and demand that dictates the terms. Unfortunately, as university enrolments increase, the average wage of university graduates decreases due to many graduates gaining only menial employment. On the other hand, higher incomes are still attainable for the achievers of society, and university remains a stepping stone toward success for many people. A phrase translated from Latin, “Knowledge is the Pathway to Glory” holds true in many fields, but don’t forget to read the ‘free market’ fine print.