New research shows how studying the humanities can benefit young people’s future careers and wider society

Thursday, June 22, 2023

Category: News

Awaiting the Vice-Chancellor and Bedels after the end of the degree ceremony

Studying a humanities degree at university gives young people vital skills which benefit them throughout their careers and prepare them for changes and uncertainty in the labour market, according a new research by Oxford’s Department of Education.

The report, called ‘The Value of the Humanities’, followed the career destinations of over 9,000 Oxford humanities graduates aged between 21 and 54 who entered the job market between 2000 and 2019, cross-referenced with UK government data on graduate outcomes and salaries. This was combined with in-depth interviews with around 100 alumni and current students, and interviews with employers from many sectors.

After the onset of COVID-19, further interviews with employers were carried out to test how the report’s findings held up in a post-pandemic world. In fact, the report suggests that the pandemic has accelerated trends towards automation, digitalisation and flexible modes of working, and the resilience of humanities graduates makes them particularly well suited to navigate this changing environment.

Dr James Robson and his co-authors for the report concluded: ‘These findings clearly show that Oxford Humanities graduates are successful at navigating the labour market and financially rewarded, but also see value as existing beyond measurable returns and linked with knowledge, personal development, individual agency, and public goods.

‘They highlight the need to take a more nuanced approach to analysing the value of degree subjects in order to take into account longer term career trajectories, individual agency within the labour market, the transformative power of knowledge, and broader public contributions of degrees within economic, social, and political discourses.’

The full report can be found on the University of Oxford website.

Photo credit: ©OUImages/John Cairns Photography