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Are Oxbridge educations important to employers?

Published: Monday 4th February 2019

Many employers value an ‘Oxbridge’ education and many individuals from either university find themselves in high paid employment. But does an Oxbridge education really matter when it comes to landing your dream job?

All-souls College in Oxford part of Oxbridge

Prestige or elitism

The Sutton Trust has found that a high proportion of some jobs have been educated in one of these two prestigious establishments. This includes judges, senior civil servants, and high-level politicians. Having the University of Oxford and the University of Cambridge on your CV can be a signal of academic success. For some employers it’s also about social status.

Judge holding his hammer on his desk

But that elitism is often unjustified. The two universities take in more than 3,000 undergraduates each year. While some may come from well-off or privileged background, many others don’t. A recent study showed that four-fifths of all students accepted to either establishment came from the top two social income groups. Eton alone sends between 60 and 100 students to Oxbridge each year.

Talent is talent whether it’s Oxbridge or elsewhere

Female Oxbridge graduate holding bouquet

Obviously, there are a lot of talented people out there who haven’t attended Oxbridge. Some are more equipped in terms of skills and personality traits to take on senior positions in public life, as well as in the world of business. What’s more preferable for an employer: a 2:2 degree from Oxbridge or a first with honours from any other educational establishment? Especially when you consider that many companies operate a 2:1 filter for graduates applying to jobs.

An Oxbridge degree is still just a degree. The location of where it was earned has nothing to do with the ability of the person who earned it. Equally, your employability will also depend a lot on the degree you take. Arguably, those who study the creative arts or philosophy at Oxbridge won’t be as employable as those with a solid science, engineering or IT degree.

What type of company do you want to work for?

Oxbridge lecturer in frond of a whiteboard

When you’re job searching, if you come across an employer who won’t hire you simply because you don’t have a degree from Oxbridge, well, maybe you should be asking if that the type of employer you want to work with. It’s more than likely that same bias or elitism may operate when it comes to career progression at the firm too.

An Oxbridge degree might still carry prestige. But business has never been so competitive, especially in a tough employment market. Employers know that prestige doesn’t mean the best talent.

If you’re looking for a new job or graduate role in the UK, take a look on Zoek to find the ideal job. We have thousands of companies hiring, just looking for the right candidate.

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