BBC News

Social science graduates 'have best job prospects'

By Judith Burns
BBC News education reporter

image captionDegrees such as economics and sociology boost skills valued by employers, a study claims

Students with an eye on their job prospects should take social science degrees, research suggests.

Social science graduates are more likely to be in paid employment than arts or science graduates, according to analysis of official data.

They are also more likely to be in managerial or senior roles, says a Campaign for Social Science study.

The authors analysed data on graduate destinations from the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA).

Career paths

Some 84.2% of social science graduates were employed three years after graduating, compared with 79% of arts and humanities graduates and 78% of graduates with science degrees, the figures suggest.

The HESA figures, published in August, revealed the career paths of more than 62,000 recent graduates, three and a half years after they left university in 2009.

The researchers define social sciences as including economics, management, business studies, anthropology, sociology, criminology, human geography, media studies, town planning, education and politics.

The figures showed that 7.6% of social science graduates in employment were classed as managers and senior officials, compared with 3.6% of those with science degrees and 6.2% of those with arts and humanities backgrounds.

The analysis found more than 70% of social science graduates were in professional or associated technical occupations, while some 7% worked in finance and insurance.

Social science graduates were also less likely to be in further study (10%) compared with 17.3% of those with science degrees and 11.5% with arts and humanities degrees.

"The idea that social science graduates work solely as social workers or teachers is shown to be unfounded," says the report.

Social science degrees encourage skills of analysis, interpretation and communication, which employers need, said Prof James Wilsdon, chairman of the campaign.

"It's time to banish any lingering myths about the value of a social science degree.

"Our report shows that employers in the public and private sectors are queuing up to hire social science graduates.

"The UK is a world leader in social science, and it's vital that we maintain this capacity. Teaching and training the next generation of social scientists is an investment that will repay itself many times over," said Prof Wilsdon.

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