(P1) A majority of university graduates in the UK are getting jobs where they do not need a degree, according to a report.

(P2) Here, three graduates who found themselves in that situation share their experiences.

Paul Holden

(P3) Paul Holden, Sheffield

(P4) I graduated in 2010 with a master’s in town planning and transport, which I have never been able to put to use.

(P5) When I started the course in 2006, the country was DESPERATE for town planners – but an economy-destroying recession PUT PAID TO that.

(P6) I’ve had a few interviews, but even those jobs that are advertised for graduates end up being taken by people with experience.

(P7) Who is going to hire someone with no experience when they can get someone who has it?

(P8) I went to university as a mature student after realising, aged 25, what I wanted to do.

(P9) But I can’t do that, and now I’m 35 and working in a pub because I have lots of experience in that industry.

(P10) It’s either that or a CALL CENTER – that is all my CV says.

(P11) I’ve given up applying for town-planning jobs, it’s POINTLESS.

(P12) At least I’m not paying off the huge student-loan DEBT, which appears to be the only thing I got for four years of study.

(P13) I feel quite BITTER about the situation.

Rebecca Shaw

(P14) Rebecca Shaw, Oxford

(P15) I graduated in 2010 with a BSc in conservation biology.

(P16) I worked in retail part-time for a bit while I concentrated on applications for jobs RELEVANT to my degree.

(P17) Eventually, I had to give up and take a full-time position working for a local AUTHORITY, which is what I have been doing for the past two years.

(P18) I’ve had enough, though, of doing MINDLESS, boring, and soul-destroying work, and I am starting university again in September to study DIAGNOSTIC RADIOGRAPHY.

(P19) It is a VOCATIONAL course with PRACTICAL experience, which I hope will make the difference when it comes to getting a job at the other end.

(P20) I worked so hard for my first degree and WENT OF MY WAY to gain extra experience to make me more employable and STAND OUT from the MASSES of other applications.

(P21) I feel very disappointed that I wasn’t able to work in the field that I trained for, particularly when the work would have been of benefit to people, and not just a money-making plan for myself.

(P22) Still, I am hopeful that I will be able to PUT ALL THAT DISAPPOINTMENT BEHIND ME with the opportunity to study again and do a job that I am proud of.

Aaron Cullen

(P23) Aaron Cullen, Aberdeen

(P24) Given my time again, I wouldn’t bother going to university.

(P25) The experience was amazing and the life skills have also proved VALUABLE, but the degree is next to WORTHLESS.

(P26) I have had to go and chase additional QUALIFICATIONS – which I could have done upon leaving school without a degree – in an attempt to gain a job where I feel I will be able to use my full POTENTIAL.

(P27) I also feel MISLED, as it was DRILLED INTO you that university was the only way to being successful – with HINDSIGHT, an APPRENTICESHIP or trade would have been a much better OPTION.

(P28) I studied in politics and philosophy, graduating in 2009.

(P29) After university, I worked as supermarket store manager – but I was doing that before and during university too.

(P30) Now, I’m working in administration.

(P31) I’m currently working to become a personal trainer.

WORDS: 576

SOURCE: http://www.bbc.com/news/education-33984756


If you found the passage difficult to read or had problems understanding specific words or idiomatic expressions, please discuss them with your tutor. The following discussion questions should be answered in your own words and with your own arguments.

  1. Briefly summarize the content of the article in your own words.
  2. Many developed countries have been producing more university graduates than there are jobs that require university degrees. Are stories like the ones in the article common in your country?
  3. Do you feel that your education prepared you well for the work that you are doing now?
  4. Do you plan to obtain another degree, or are you already working on one?
  5. Do you like or dislike the competitive side of modern life?


What do the following expressions mean? Practice using each expression in a sentence; extra points if you can use it in conversation.

  • Put paid to
  • Call center
  • Go out of your way
  • Stand out
  • Put behind you
  • Drill into

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  1. It’s really great to read this because I’m a teacher who went through similar difficulties right out of college. If I hadn’t worked my way through school, I wouldn’t have had the connections and work experience that helped me get mediocre employment. I think the degree makes you look good if you can manage it. But, work experience and skills matter more. Keep working and keep trying though. I ended up writing in advertising and used my journalism and English degree to help me land jobs in publishing. Then, I found a job teaching later in life. Good luck to all of you.

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