A degree in Education Studies? What can I do with that?

Adapt or die’ (BBC, 2010), these prophetic words were delivered by former Education Minister Leighton Andrews to the higher education institutions of Wales in 2010. On one hand this statement can be considered a
fait accomplis in terms of the requirement to physically restructure higher education institutions within the Principality, but on the other can be considered a call for such organizations to re-consider the very nature of their existence and the services they provide.

Bourner (2011) clearly understands this pressure on higher education institutions to reform and reorganize alluding to reduced funding and the need to ensure continued economic viability. While many acknowledge that there is no such thing as a job for life anymore and while this may lamentably be true as any glance at the daily broadsheets will attest to, it does call into question what should a model of higher education in the 21st century look like? What is it that graduates today receive that sets them apart from the others? If we take the view of John Taylor Gatto (2002) who states that ‘
well-schooled people are irrelevant’ as truth, then we also need to ask of ourselves, what sort of people are relevant? Added to this the increased marketisation of higher education which now visualizes students in more of a consumer role all means that change is needed to ensure the continued viability of the system in a form which delivers the necessary goods both now and in the future.

This is a particularly pertinent issue for Education Studies, a broad-ranging discipline that can potentially lead to any number of professional roles. Across the UK a cursory glance through the prospectuses will highlight the varied range of degrees that exist under the banner of Education Studies or some derivation thereof. The question is then, in such a broad and widely interpreted discipline, is there enough being done to enhance the employability skills of our graduates or do we release them into the murky waters of the current job market without the requisite paddle? What is it that students want from an Education Studies course and how well does such a degree serve them in the current employment market? This paper uses a case study approach to determine current perceptions of Education Studies both from the student and academic perspective to envisage a way forward in a complex and challenging higher education environment.


BBC, 2010.
news.bbc.co.uk. [Online]

Available at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-politics-11911375

[Accessed 15th March 2014].
Bourner, T. & Millican, J., 2011. Student community engagement and the changing role and context of higher education.
Education & Training, 53(2/3), pp. 89-99.

Gatto, J.T. 2002.
Dumbing us Down: The Hidden Curriculum of Compulsory Schooling. Gabriola Island: New Society Publishers.