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Last Updated: Tuesday, 8 May 2007, 11:26 GMT 12:26 UK
Arts students 'plan careers less'
Media careers are the most popular job target for students
Arts and humanities students are much less likely to have made plans for working after university and expect less well-paid jobs, suggests research.

Almost half of arts students have no plans for after university - and expect to travel or take temporary jobs.

The survey of student employment intentions shows that the most popular job areas for applications are the media, teaching and investment banking.

The survey was based on 17,000 final year students.

The UK Graduate Careers Survey examined students' expectations of the graduate job market - and found a much more confident, work-focused, approach from students on work-related courses.

'So what?

Student James Shaddock, who is reading history and history of art at Oxford Brookes University, took issue with the whole premise underlying the careers survey.

"What is so wrong with not having a job lined up or making sure it pays well? Could it be that students like myself don't actually care?" he told the BBC News website.

"The majority of people I know on work related degree courses are more stressed when doing coursework because they know that their future job relies on it.

"Also, they lack the passion for their subjects that we arts students do.

"We do our degrees for the love of the subject, not for the returns and we are encouraged to have independent thought and come up with our own opinions, whereas for someone on a work related degree there tends to only be a right answer or a wrong answer."

We invited your thoughts. Here are some of the comments received:

I switched from an Engineering course to a Humanities course, and the fact is that on science-based degrees, you are approached by companies, you have internships, years in industry...your career path is almost spelled out for you during your studies, whereas for the Arts, it's not that easy - what obvious career path do you have by studying a culture or linguistics?
Raphael, London, UK

Having completed an Arts degree and knowing many people who have done the same, this is no surprise. There is no effort made to make you aware of the options available to you on completion of your degree. Many people carry on their studies because of a passion for their subject - the career comes later.
Rebecca, Hull, East Yorkshire

Unless you are really talented, motivated or plain lucky u dont stand a chance with an arts degree.
Liam, Manchester

I was an art Student and WORKED all through study, I never had sights to travel the world, I wanted to be an Artist, sadly that didnt happen but I changed my career path. I think creative minds wander, art is the outlet and travelling is the way they open and expand their minds. I think the way art is taught there is no set way to become a succesful artist and make money so people move on and travel around.
Melieth, Worcester, Worcestershire

Arts students are less keen on any work, not just the one starting with a capital W. Many see earning money as selling their soul, and in some cases it is: if you don't have skills to do a satisfying, intellectually demanding job, which many of them will not finish with. At university, some people are accused of putting their eggs in one basket; if they do narrowly defined courses. Arts students don't have many eggs in their basket to lose: they think less is more. Wise words from the Buddha; but it won't help getting you a job, except at the Golden Arches of Oak Brook, Illinois.
James Hewson, Derbyshire

It reminds me of the old joke that was doing the rounds when I was a student in the late '80s:
Q: What do you say to an arts graduate with a first-class degree?
A: Big Mac and fries, please!
Boom, boom!
Andrew, Nuneaton, United Kingdom

After finishing uni with a degree in physiotherapy, it was logical to become a physiotherapist.... Sorry i was told, no jobs. So sometimes having a plan isn't answer
Lloyd Nicolson, Bristol, UKHaving a plan requires planning - you should have looked at the job market before stating and realised the job market in this area was poor. It's a bit like saying "I studied really hard for 3 years to become an astronaut on the first Scottish manned flight to the Moon and now I've finished, I can't find a job anywhere!" Just because it's your plan, it doesn't mean it fits in to everyone elses.
Dave (Good job and a B Sc), Winchester

Why is this surprising? Arts courses are rarely vocational and don't attract the same approaches from business and industry that science and vocational courses do. Most students reading arts and humanities choose their subject because they have a passion and/or talent for it, not because they think it will bring them money and status in years to come. Consequently, they are prepared to travel, temp or take on casual jobs until they get their perfect job.

I do, however, think that it's nonsense to say, as many people do, that arts students don't stand a chance of a decent career. Firstly, there are plenty of employers that are simply looking for graduates, regardless of their degree subject, and secondly, arts degrees prepare you very well for jobs in certain fields. Arts courses are less structured than science ones and require a lot of self-motivation and self-discipline. I did an English degree and my career has benefited from the fact that I learned to think laterally, to write persuasively, to order creative thought into a well-constructed argument, and countless other skills.
Joanne Sheppard, Salford, UK

When you consider the amount of "doss couses" available in the arts area, compared with the few in the sciences area, it's no wonder arts graduates do not have their careers mapped out. Many are studying degrees such as media and culture, purely on the basis that they are interesting, rather than the fact that they will lead to a job. We need to sort out the ridiculous amount of people going into higher education in order to sort out this new problem.
Suzy Dame, Oxford.

After completing an Arts degree I am now doing an arts post-grad part time and working full-time. This combination makes for a minimum 50hr week, usually more. Obviously all arts graduates must be lazy! I went into an arts degree knowing it wouldn't lead to a specific job, but also knowing that any kind of degree would make me more employable in the long run. I didn't want to get stuck with a degree that I couldn't use in a subject I didn't like. Yes, it is more difficult for me to find work than an engineering graduate, but that doesn't make me lazy, it just means I have to work harder to get what I want. In the meantime I have gained a wide education, a love of learning and a lot of transferable skills. I have no regrets.
Maya, Glasgow

I am all for students choosing subjects that they love. Just as long as when they finish their course, they dont look to the government for handouts because they are unemployable.
Jason, London

I did an arts degree at Uni. ... I left my course and having made no plan at all whatsoever and I walked into a fairly decent job in marketing within 3 days of my final exams beating a marketing graduate (yep that¿s a work-focused course) to the role. I do resent the implication that arts students are lazy and unfocused. I had a fairly strict schedule that included visits to the library at least twice a week, a place that friends of mine doing business, engineering, computing and science courses knew of only because it was on their way to the pub. I wanted to make the most of university to open my mind; I read around my subject, they relied upon their one or two set texts. I¿m not saying that all arts students did what I did, but I dislike the generalisation. Plus my peers on ¿work-related courses¿ were horrified when they saw how much work actually went into an essay/dissertation/exam in which the marking scheme is very much grey area, for them they just had to learn to repeat the right phrases, not actually understand the concept. I¿m now doing a professional ¿work-related¿ qualification that I would have had to do even if I had a marketing degree and to be honest I keep looking for the trick question, compared to my degree it¿s a lot easier.
Caroline, Yorkshire, UK

Perhaps if arts students were valued more, given more self-worth, while stil at school they would feel nore motivated. My arts students are constantly made to feel that they are 'less bright', less worthy,less valuable than those studying the 'accepted' core subjects. What sort of educational society have we become that we can allow this to happen? Doesn't anyone value the leisure industry anymore? Does that mean that TV, film, video are all worthless to the 'educated' masses? I know that when I go to the theatre, for exaample, I see rather a lot of the 'educated' science/maths/english/mfl sorts enjoying the artists I have taught and trained. Odd that ...
Julie Walker, Derby, UK

To undertake a science or vocational degree takes a great deal of dedication, as they typically involve much longer hours of study than arts degrees (I did 25 hours per week versus 8 hours per week by arts friends). And only an artist would ever imagine that science was black and white - the discussions and debate over natural selection or the ethics of genetic engineering show that you must be empassioned in your work. And with regards to the career paths - well all of my artist friends are self employed but very successful in their fields. It's just a different way of doing it.
Alison, Leeds, UK

James Shaddock's attitude is definately not typical of his fellow students at Oxford Brookes University. Myself, and most of the other students that also went to Brookes, have consistently been sought after graduates that have gone on to get interesting and well-paid careers.
Nick, Cumbria

I find the suggestion that there's something wrong with NOT planning for a job whilst reading for a degree quite offensive. It's handy when a degree can lead directly into a career - but a degree only has any real value if it has value in itself. Clearly arts students have their heads screwed on right!
Adam Wasenczuk, Eastleigh, UK

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