Articles - Why get an Economics degree?
Economics students always seem to get a bad rap. They’re often thought of as a bore, too busy “worrying about numbers” to have a good time. As with any discipline, there are stereotypes and misconceptions – but how much of this one is true and how much is an outdated fallacy?
Financial broker, Spread Co, wanted to find out, so they spoke to graduates with a wide variety of degrees, ranging from finance to economics, to business management. They asked the graduates to share the comments they’d received about their degrees while studying and as they started employment. Some of the answers they gave were astounding, ranging from being asked such things as “wouldn’t they want to kill themselves doing that every day?”, to being told that they’re “just a boring bean counter”. The general consensus from their peers, as we would expect, was that they weren’t very exciting.
To try and help counter these comments, Spread Co gave the same graduates the opportunity to explain why these preconceptions just aren’t true by asking them to retrospectively respond to the comments. From this small sample, there were some fantastic responses that proved economists, analysts and accountants are a lot more interesting than you might first think. One graduate had recently climbed Kilimanjaro, another hitchhiked across the Balkans, but what came across most strongly was the sense of satisfaction they all had with getting their ‘dream job.’ Many of the graduates just couldn’t understand why these negative preconceptions still exist.
However, despite these misconceptions, more and more people are studying in these subject areas. In June 2015, there were 48,130 applicants in the ‘mathematical sciences’. This was a massive surge of over 2,500 extra applicants from the previous year and a 5% rise, compared to a modest 1% overall increase in student numbers. The obvious career path with an economics or finance degree would be, of course, an economist, an accountant or perhaps a statistical analyst, but degrees like this are useful for a whole host of practical skills in any job.
An economics degree gives you a great understanding of how a business works so, whatever job you have, it can help you inform business making decisions. Understanding the intricacies of the financial side of a business can mean that, when you’re doing your everyday job, you have a better grasp on it’s cost and return. Not only that, it can also help you identify how you could save or even make more money.
It makes a lot of sense that many of these students are globetrotters too. Economics and business degrees in the UK have a much higher percentage of international students in their ranks. Three out of the top ten universities for economics courses in the world are at British Universities (LSE, Oxford, Cambridge). As a result, students swarm to these courses from all over the world. Spending time with this large international contingent can only help make students on these courses have a more well-rounded, internationalised, view of the world. As a result, they’ll be more experienced, better informed and much more likely to travel and work abroad.
Wages for economics graduates in their first job are great too. Complete University Guide pulled together statistics on the starting salaries for all the major subject areas, finding that students graduating with a degree in economics have a starting wage of about £4,000 more than the average graduate job. It has a significant impact on employment rates too, with about 52% of graduates in professional jobs, with only 8% unemployed after University.
If you’re a graduate who has studied economics, then you’re probably already aware that you shouldn’t judge a maths book by it’s cover. Every subject and profession has its stereotypes, and unfortunately for economics and finance graduates, their preconceptions aren’t always entirely positive, but that doesn’t mean they’re true. Students who study in these areas have a good understanding of business, have a global perspective on the workplace and ultimately end up in rewarding jobs. Maybe if we all took the time to learn our sums at school we could be doing well as the mountain climbing, high-earning yet, apparently, boring accountants of the world.