The Economist – The many thousands of UK (and US) graduates that would have been better off financially had they not bothered to attend a university course

The text below was taken from an article published in the last edition of The Economist. The article also addresses the bad situation of American graduates that finish higher education loaded with debt and with an irrelevant degree. The article claims that part of the problem lies in the fact that Governments (not only in the US) fail to give students enough information so that they may avoid choosing shoddy degrees. The article also advises that courses that benefit from state funds should have to clear a basic quality hurdle. I find this amazing because that already happens even in my own country (Portugal) so I understand that it would be normal for this to also happen in all Western countries:

“…In rich countries people who hold a bachelor’s degree earn over 40% more than those who do not. This premium has remained lofty, even as the number of university-goers has soared: some 33m people are studying undergraduate degrees across the rich world today. Yet those average figures hide queasily large differences…About 25% of men and 15% of women graduates in England would have been better off financially had they not bothered…A better alternative would be for governments to invest in giving students the information they need to make sensible choices. Britain has pulled together detailed data about how much graduates from thousands of courses at hundreds of institutions go on to earn, but it does a poor job of supplying this to all applicants. America has been working on something similar, but laws that limit federal data-crunching are getting in the way…Supplying it to everyone else should be a priority…”

Be that as it may, it makes little sense to talk about high-paying degrees in a jobless future (GPT-4 claims it can replace 20 jobs right now), several years ago Jürgen Habermas already quoted R.B.Fuller on that What really makes sense in this likely context is that modern universities should be concerned with educating global citizens of the 21st century. Check Fig 2 of the paper by Moscardini et al. published in the Studies in Higher Education

PS – Not surprisingly Nobel Prize-winning economist, Christopher Pissarides, professor at the London School of Economics, just said about ChatGPT: “We could increase our well-being generally from work and we could take off more leisure. We could move to a four-day week easily.”