Fiona Deller – Need To Read: The ROI on degrees, the Skills Gap and Student Debt

Sharing the best in postsecondary news and commentary

Last week the American PayScale put out their annual report on return on investment (ROI). They have an interactive site you can play with here. There was plenty of commentary, with the Atlantic writing about which degrees make you richer and the New York Times writing about the difficulty of getting a job with certain types of degrees and what that means for student debt.  The always fun and thoughtful University Venturesdoes a nice job of summing up why the ROI calculation is not as simple and straightforward as sometimes presented.

On a related note, there is still no shortage of commentary on the skills gap. Paul Krugman argues against a skills gap and for those of you who appreciate a longer read, a longitudinal study for the Federal Reserve Bank of New York looks at two decades of employment results for graduates. They conclude that the transition into the labour market for new graduates is not that different now than it has been historically. However, what may be worrisome is long term underemployment of graduates.  And finally, Training Magazine addresses the skills gap from a different angle: how are employers stepping up and creatively filling the gap?

On the issue of work and learning, here’s a conundrum. Tuition is getting higherand evidence suggests that employers are increasingly looking for work experience from graduates for entry level jobs. However, gone are the days when students could work their way through university and college – at least in the US. Is it becoming true in Canada? You be the judge. Here’s the Atlantic’s take on it and here’s a student perspective.

The American student debt problem is not always relevant to Canada’s student debt issues  and can be taken out of context. But this piece from InsideHigherEd – especially in light of the interesting changes in Newfoundland and Labrador from loan to grant, and Nova Scotia where interest on student loans will be eliminated- is interesting. It outlines, rightly, some important points that often get lost in the debate about student debt and its impact on student choice.

In my last Need to Read I wrote a short review of the book How College Works, which put forward some ideas on how to make the PSE experience more student-friendly. Here is a good follow up essay from InsideHigherEd that talks about why this is so important for traditionally underrepresented students.

Finally, this piece from the Guardian looks at how things are faring in the UK following the change in the tuition and loan system, and concludes that it may not be paying off.

Happy Reading.

-Fiona Deller, Executive Director, Policy & Partnerships

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