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Will an Oxbridge education get you a better job?

Published: Monday 4th February 2019

All-souls College in OxfordMany employers value an ‘Oxbridge’ education and it’s true that 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?

Prestige or elitism

Certainly, the Sutton Trust has found that a high proportion of judges, senior civil servants, and high-level politicians have been educated in one of these two prestigious establishments. But that’s not surprising when you consider that having the University of Oxford and the University of Cambridge on your CV can be a signal of academic success and, for some employers, social status.

Judge holding his hammer on his deskBut that elitism is often unjustified. The two universities take in more than 3,000 undergraduates each year and while some may come from well-off or privileged background, many others don’t. That said, 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.

Female graduated holding bouquetTalent is talent wherever you’re educated

Obviously, there are a lot of talented people out there who haven’t attended Oxbridge, yet 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. After all, 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.

At the end of the day, 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 business, engineering or IT degree.

lecturer in frond of a whiteboardWhat type of company do you want to work for?

If, when you’re job searching, an employer 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, because 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 a time when business has never been so competitive – especially in a tough employment market – prestige doesn’t mean the best talent. And the best employers know that.

What is certain if you’re looking for jobs in Oxford or jobs in Cambridge, by studying there, you’ll have some knowledge of the companies in the area and where to go to find the best opportunities. But, for jobs in London and graduate roles elsewhere, you’ll need some extra help to find the best vacancies with the best companies. In that case, the best place to start is at by visiting zoek.uk

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