National poll says science degrees "better value for money" than arts - what do you...

National poll says science degrees "better value for money" than arts - what do you think?

Posted by Jon Edwards on Oct 8, 2010 10:56 am

In a poll conducted for the RSC by leading polling organisation Ipsos MORI, over 1000 people were asked to rate different university degree subjects in terms of "value for money" for the taxpayer.

There was a decisive split between sciences and arts, with seven of the top eight subjects ranked by "high priority" votes being science-related.

Our Government is there to represent the views of the people. According to this poll those views are that, in a time where our economy needs rebalancing and bolstering, science degrees are excellent value for money.

Should a democratic Government be focusing its budget spending on those subjects that people perceive as more helpful to our economy? In other words, should science degrees be a higher funding priority than arts degrees?

We'd love to hear what you think. Should science be a priority to bolster our economy? Should "value for money" be an argument applied to higher education funding? Are we even asking the right questions? Argue fervently below.


Here's the summary table, in order of votes for "high priority". The question asked was: "Government funding is likely to be cut for teaching university students. Thinking about subjects taught at universities, would you rate the following subjects to be a high, medium or low priority for getting value for tax payers' money:"

Base: All answering Q1  High  Medium  Low  Don't Know
         
 Unweighted 1040 1040 1040 1040
 Weighted 1040 1040 1040 1040
 Medicine 888 63 17 72
  85% 6% 2% 7%
 Engineering 714 214 39 74
  69% 21% 4% 7%
 Education 700 226 42 72
  67% 22% 4% 7%
 Mathematics 652 259 56 73
  63% 25% 5% 7%
 Dentistry 641 271 53 75
  62% 26% 5% 7%
 Chemistry 607 295 64 75
  58% 28% 6% 7%
 Physics 587 303 72 79
  56% 29% 7% 8%
 Biology 580 326 63 72
  56% 31% 6% 7%
 Law 541 346 88 65
  52% 33% 8% 6%
 Computing 525 352 89 74
  50% 34% 9% 7%
 Business Studies 320 449 195 77
  31% 43% 19% 7%
 Architecture 317 426 215 82
  30% 41% 21% 8%
 European Languages 240 426 287 86
  23% 41% 28% 8%
 Design 201 445 307 88
  19% 43% 30% 8%
 History 159 397 404 79
  15% 38% 39% 8%
 Non-European Languages 129 332 484 95
  12% 32% 47% 9%
 Philosophy 100 258 591 90
  10% 25% 57% 9%
 Classics 81 256 609 94
  8% 25% 59% 9%
 Media Studies 71 284 596 90
  7% 27% 57% 9%

Attached Files

Jon Edwards | RSC Communications Manager | twitter.com/JonSatriani

Re: National poll says science degrees "better value for money" than arts - what do you think?

Posted by Alan Crooks on Oct 11, 2010 5:44 pm


I've replied to this posting twice, but for some reason it doesn't appear.

Anyway, science-based undergraduates are always commenting (not complaining, I hope!) about the amount of time they have to spend in 'lectures' compared to their arts-based peers.

I put 'lectures' in inverted commas because this includes laboratory practical sessions. Laboratory practicals, necessarily have to be supervised, even if only from a H$S perspective. Also, laboratory work frequently involves complex and expensive equipment.

The lecture/contact time is necessitated by the fact that science degrees are (perhaps) much more knowledge-dependent than arts degrees. One HAS to understand and be able to apply the theory. (I say 'perhaps' because I have no direct experience of arts-based degrees, but I can imagine that there is a high level of subjectivity involved with many of them. The sciences are highly objective.

The skills acquired by science graduates (matrhematical, practical/technical, interpretive, English-language based (for providing explanations), problem-solving... are transferable and are in high demand, even in fields outside of the sciences. So, yes. They are better value for money, IMO.

Re: National poll says science degrees "better value for money" than arts - what do you think?

Posted by Rebecca Ingle on Nov 14, 2010 8:52 am

It's definitely a prevalent attitude on my undergrad chem course that we are really quite lucky to be paying the same fees as many arts students for much more contact hours. Art History students here have approximately four hours a week, whereas we often have over four hours of lectures in one day. Whilst I think that encouraging self-study is a positive thing and encouraging further reading allows people to discover more about their personal areas of interest, I would feel cheated paying what is essentially an extortionate library subscription fee and a degree which in many people's eyes, says about that much.

I do think it is a crying shame if people are not allowed to study what they are passionate about, which is what would be the case if the cost of some degrees were to rise. In pragmatic terms though, science, technology and medical degrees are far more immediately 'useful' and I'd imagine engineering and medicine degrees pay themselves back nicely through the taxes generated from the higher incomes they offer. Rather then just scrapping funding for all arts-based subjects, I think it would be fairer to allow anyone who could afford to do them to do so and for the best, brightest and most enthusiastic, offer hefty scholarships. Although it's not really fair, I'm not sure there is any way that the inequality that financial background creates in education can be avoided. I wonder though if there is a difference in the income levels of most art and science students, as I'd imagine future income/ job security is more of a concern for lower income students and so they'd make up a greater proportion of science students anyway.

When it comes to hard times, then yes, science degrees should have funding priority but it is important to remember that arts degrees are still very valuable and learning for the sake of learning itself is a wonderful thing to encourage. It would be nice to see a shift in attitude at universities back to that, rather than being so job-market focused. 

Re: National poll says science degrees "better value for money" than arts - what do you think?

Posted by Alan Crooks on Nov 15, 2010 12:08 am


"It would be nice to see a shift in attitude at universities back to that, rather than being so job-market focused."
I
think there might now be a chance of that, with F.E. colleges now offering 'Vocational Degrees' it gives the universities a chance to re-focus on rigorous academic subjects - as they did before polytechnics became universities and, at the same time, universities were forced to become more vocational.

Re: National poll says science degrees "better value for money" than arts - what do you think?

Posted by Rebecca Ingle on Nov 15, 2010 8:38 am

That would be great but my concern would be that the situation will not change from what we have at the moment, where vocational options in the form of BTECs and NVQs etc. but they are not considered rigorous enough to compete with their supposedly equivalent academic qualifications which is such a waste of opportunity for so many people. 

I think though the idea of a degree 'having to be an investment for your future career' and a route into a job is never going to leave even the most academic of subjects. There are too many sixth forms at which going to university is just an 'expected' part of your education and I know a lot of people who do most of their activities at uni just for something to put on the CV. As long as there are fees though, I think this attitude will prevail. 

Re: National poll says science degrees "better value for money" than arts - what do you think?

Posted by Joel Neale on Mar 1, 2011 4:26 pm

Speaking as a relatively "fresh out" graduate, i would like to say i am very happy with where my science degree has taken me straight out of university and into a well paid job within 3 months. Comparing myself to people who studied twice as hard as i did and got much better grades in subjects that would be considered as arts degrees i am much better off.
A scientific degree involves practical work, problem solving, numeracy and theoretical application on a daily basis, these qualities allow for a wide scope of jobs to become available to you once you finish your studying.

The only thing that is missing is the experience needed to take up a job straight away, which is why i would implore any young scientist/engineer/ mathematician to take a work placement in their third year. Do this and you will be more employable than any arts graduate and the degree will have been much better value for money.

Re: National poll says science degrees "better value for money" than arts - what do you think?

Posted by Andy Kowalski on Aug 14, 2015 10:03 am

When i was a student in the mid 70's we always had plento of lab work lectures and tutorials and were too busy with writing up lab reports, dissetations etc to be tied up with the social aspects that our art and humanities coleagues had.
Having seen over a long period of time those who have gone into STEM subjects have had far better return on their hard work than their colleagues who have gone into arts and social sciences areas.
Also know from my  ttime at Loughborough University that those who pursued chemistry degrees had over 90% employment on graduating, same can be said for other science based degrees.

Re: MyRSC Update:[RSC Debate] Re: National poll says science degrees "better value for money" than arts - what do you think?

Posted by KAKURU GYAVIIRA on Aug 15, 2015 6:49 pm

may be

Re: National poll says science degrees "better value for money" than arts - what do you think?

Posted by Kunal Sharma on Sep 26, 2015 4:55 am

A science degrees value becomes compounded with increasing amounts of experience pre-graduation. Most science undergraduates who believe a good GPA correlates with a good job are in for a terrible shock after graduating, as they will struggle to find even lab technician jobs in the practical world, where employers will often choose someone with more experience. 

As an undergraduate who did research with the government and in highly funded academic labs because of my experience, I can attest that making the right connections and compounding your degree with experience is the most important thing you can do, whether it's for academia or industry. Oh, and publications are the golden eggs of experience. If you can crank publications out with you as the co-author, it makes your value soar. Of course however, experience isn't the end-all-be-all of jobs, you must also have the sociable skills and personality that many employers seek.

Keep this thing in mind and you'll stay on top of your market and be able to differentiate yourself far better from your community than art majors can from theirs.

Re: National poll says science degrees "better value for money" than arts - what do you think?

Posted by Andy Kowalski on Sep 28, 2015 8:59 am

Some Universities are now getting their own dedicated buildings based on STEM subjects as the backing from Government undelines the subjects importance to economy and also over the long term science graduates have better potential to get on further than arts contemporaries!.

A friends son who completed a Masters degree in an graphics subject could not obtain a post in that ar despite lokking for quite a whiole and now working in banking, another coleagues son whose degree was science based has progressed in his own subject area very quickly.

​​

Re: National poll says science degrees "better value for money" than arts - what do you think?

Posted by susan richard on Sep 7, 2016 7:02 pm

 helper: i would like to say i am very happy with where my science degree has taken me straight out of university and into a well paid job within 3 months. Comparing myself to people who studied twice as hard as i did and got much better grades in subjects that would be considered as arts degrees i am much better off.

Re: National poll says science degrees "better value for money" than arts - what do you think?

Posted by Andy Kowalski on Sep 8, 2016 9:28 am

The other aspect of having studied Chemsitry is that it has allowed me to think of problems from different angles and analyse them from differeent perspectives.  This form of anlytical thought can also be used in dealing with mangement issues realting not only to scientific ones but in other areas too.

​Working now as a freelancer at the interface of Chemsitry&Management  is use my skills to help people challenge  situations in whih they find themselves in and offer possible solutions by usisng qestionning techniques to drive reflection on them!

​Also use my life expereiences to help drive others into science based courses as likley jobs to emerge on grduation are likley to be mote satisfying and also have opportunity to get posts overseas and not just in UK!

Re: National poll says science degrees "better value for money" than arts - what do you think?

Posted by Andy Kowalski on Jan 17, 2017 11:14 am

Further to previous posts, still believe that STEM subjects are likely to pay moe over a lifetime than their arts counterparts. Know that most Chemists land jobs pretty quickly and with expanding ares of nanotechnology and other fields,   this could be a great opportunity to get involved in as rewarss go further than pay like job satisfaction, recognition and long term prospects.

​You need to take a longer term view of what your career could turn out to be, have vision, vitality and courage to move on!

​See your career as a journey and look beyond the horizon, don't be afraid to work elsewhere once graduated, a lot of students who passed through Lougboorugh's Chemistry department are now working overseas especially in USA.

Re: National poll says science degrees "better value for money" than arts - what do you think?

Posted by cbxk org123 on Mar 23, 2017 8:09 am

exactly

Re: National poll says science degrees "better value for money" than arts - what do you think?

Posted by Andy Kowalski on Jun 7, 2017 9:09 am

Science degrees are also highly regarded in Far East and if you wan to travel and work there its a good opportunity to do so. A collegue for mine who was a Teaching Fellow is curren tly using his chemcial knowledge by teaching at Ning Bo University in China. Another used his knowledge of Chhemistry to work in USA as a engineer in Analytical instrument Manufacture and testing and is now working in Germany on a development project.

​Quite a few of my other academic colleagues went over to work in USA in am ixtue of areas and still wwork there even after 30 odd years so worth doing such a degree as it opens new vistas and opportunities.

​As a Coach and Mentor i can help people once they have finished their degrees by channeling their skillsets in to areas where they could realy make a difference an dhave a satisfying career, i also help thos who want to change direction within subect area.

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