Social science graduates more likely to be in work than other graduates, report says

28 October 2013


Social science graduates are more likely to be in employment after their first degree than graduates in other areas such as science and the arts, and a higher proportion are in managerial and senior official roles, a new report says.
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The report, by the Campaign for Social Science, analyses data from higher education surveys on graduates 3.5 years after they finished their first degree.

The data showed that 84% of social science graduates were in employment, compared with 78% of STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) graduates and 79% of arts and humanities graduates. More STEM graduates go on to further study.

The figures show that 5.5% of social science graduates were in a combination of employment and study, and 4.5% were in further study.

The Higher Education Statistics Agency data on 62,205 graduates completing full or part-time degrees in 2008/9 – the latest results available – also show that 7.6% of social science graduates in work were classed as ‘managers and senior officials’. This compares with 3.6% of STEM graduates and 6.2% of arts and humanities graduates.

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Professor James Wilsdon, Campaign Chair, said: “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. They have the skills of analysis, interpretation and communication that our economy and society needs.

“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.”

Other findings in the report, written by Campaign staff member Roses Leech-Wilkinson, include:

• 40% of social science graduates are in professional occupations, and 31% are in associate professional and technical occupations

• 7.1% social science graduates work in finance and insurance, compared with 3.7% STEM graduates, and 3.9% arts and humanities graduates

• a smaller proportion of social science graduates are in further study – 10.1% compared with 17.3% with STEM degrees and 11.5% with arts-humanities degrees.

The report quotes recent graduates, including Glosia Slominski, who has a BSc degree in Economics and Germany from Cardiff University and works as an Executive Management Trainee at HSBC. She says: “A degree in social science will equip you with a wealth of skills to help you throughout your career, whatever you want to go into. The opportunities open to you upon graduation are far reaching, and in my experience looked upon well by employers across many professions.”

The report is being launched at a public lecture on the future of social science on Monday 28 October, organised by the Campaign, and sponsored by SAGE.

At the lecture David Willetts MP, the Universities and Science Minister, is speaking at the Department for Business Innovation & Skills Conference Centre in central London on ‘Where next for social science? The agenda beyond 2015’.

Mr Willetts said: “Social sciences are vitally important to help us understand the world around us. The UK is ranked second in the world for the quantity and quality of social science research we produce but we cannot be complacent.” He pointed to the Sigma scheme to broaden maths skills among students, and the Q-Step programme set up to deliver more social science training, as examples of how social science is funded.

The HESA survey uses a sample of 62,205 graduates from among the 354,730 who completed an earlier survey six months after leaving university, and is weighted to account for over-sampled sub-groups. See: