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Pursuing greater heights

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Photo by Cole Keister

Obtaining a degree in higher education for Filipinos is highly important. According to reports, Filipinos, in comparison to the global average, strongly believe in the correlation of educational attainment and having better employment opportunities, including that of higher income in the workplace.

While completing an undergraduate degree has become a norm, obtaining a postgraduate degree, although not an absolute essential, is becoming an “unspoken” requirement to some graduates, according to an article by London-based publication, Times Higher Education (THE).

The article stated that a growing number of graduates are embarking on postgraduate degrees even when such qualifications are not a requirement for work in their chosen industry. The report went on by saying that increasingly, people are pursuing a master’s degree not to stand out from the pack but simply to keep up with it, and stated that some who have just been starting out in the job market have reported that they are finding it difficult to get noticed with just a bachelor’s degree.

THE further cited some advantages of having a postgraduate degree through some of the interviews it has conducted such as making contacts. On the other hand, some professions strictly call for a postgraduate degree such as teaching.

The correlation of taking postgraduate degrees and employment was also cited by ICEF Monitor, a dedicated market intelligence resource for the international education industry, in a 2016 survey.

“A global survey of international postgraduate applicants finds that employment concerns are figuring more prominently in the decision-making of prospective master’s and PhD students. Other key considerations for postgraduate applicants include the international recognition of advanced degrees earned abroad, cultural interest and lifestyle factors, and affordability,” ICEF Monitor stated.

Meanwhile, according to an article by topuniversities.com, home to the annual QS World University Rankings, the skills attained by studying a postgraduate degree will strengthen one’s CV and will certainly help them stand out amongst those who haven’t obtained a postgraduate qualification.

“Some universities will offer work experience as part of postgraduate-level programs, which will provide you with valuable insights into working in that environment and help you develop your professional network. This experience can be highlighted during graduate job interviews, to show that you have both the academic and professional knowledge needed to be successful in the position,” the article stated.

Similarly, employers are seeing the value of potential hires with more than undergraduate qualifications. Online employment Web site Career Builder revealed in a 2016 survey that more than one in four employers are hiring employees with masteral degrees for positions that have been primarily held by those with four-year degrees in the past.

“Nearly a third (32%) of employers have increased their educational requirements over the past five years. More than a quarter (27%) are hiring employees with master’s degrees for positions primarily held by those with four-year degrees in the past, and 37% are hiring employees with college degrees for positions that had been primarily held by those with high school degrees,” the survey stated.

The survey also noted that higher degrees not only boost candidates’ chances of getting hired, but they can help their chances of getting promoted as well.

While a higher educational attainment an individual might achieve could result to certain financial advantages, further studying could also bring social benefits such as the value of the experience of going to university, among many others. This is according to PricewaterhouseCoopers’ (PwC) 2005 study exploring the economic benefits of higher education qualifications.

Topuniversities.com also said that taking postgraduate studies can contribute to one’s personal development for it will be equipping the student with skills that can support them through daily life, such as time management, researching, presentation and writing.

On a larger picture, a society with individuals pursuing graduate studies can also benefit the government and its economy.

“From the perspective of many governments, expanding graduate education has an attractive secondary benefit,” a 2014 report titled “Higher Education in Asia: Expanding Out, Expanding Up” by UNESCO stated.

“Many governments see universities as centers of research that will yield positive economic returns to the country. University research is typically done at the graduate level (master’s and doctoral). Hence, expanding graduate education is viewed as a means of increasing the economic competitiveness of the country,” the report continued.

The Commission on Higher Education shares the same sentiment. According to the commission’s published “Higher Education Accomplishments 2010-2016” report, higher education performs a distinct social function across countries and economies.

“At the macro level, it builds human capital to spur creativity and productivity, generates new knowledge, engenders innovations for human development, and drives economic growth and global competitiveness. At the micro level, it expands and enhances career and life choices and chances of individuals, produces persons with humanist values, a desire to serve their communities and the Filipino nation, academic, behavioral and technical skills, the ability to think through the ethical and social implications of their actions, and the competency to learn continuously in order to fully engage in the world of work or in the creation of jobs, and, more importantly, live meaningfully in today’s complex world,” the report stated. — Romsanne R. Ortiguero