After A-level results came out yesterday, is a degree always the best route to success?

YES
Wendy Piatt

In tough economic times, a good degree remains a smart investment. Most graduates earn a six-figure premium over those with two A-levels, and Russell Group graduates typically receive a 10 per cent top-up over those from other universities. Our students work with world-class experts, use first-rate facilities, are part of a highly motivated and talented peer group and often engage in cutting-edge research themselves. Employability is embedded into the culture of universities and many are going further than ever to produce “work-ready” graduates. Our graduates are among the most sought after globally, with graduate recruiters ranking ten Russell Group universities among the top 30 worldwide. With no up-front fees and income-contingent repayments, if you’re good enough to get in, you can afford to go. Students with the talent, potential and ability should jump at the chance to go to a leading university.

Dr Wendy Piatt is director general of the Russell Group of universities.

NO
Richard Irwin

Degree or no degree, anyone with the right talents can succeed. University fees, economic forecasts and unemployment are all having a bearing on students’ decisions. Employers who want to attract the most talented need to offer the best opportunities. Students can join PwC as graduates, undergraduates, straight from school or through our employer-led degrees. While graduate recruitment is still at the heart of our business, this year we’ve expanded our school leaver programme and received 2,352 applications for 100 vacancies; 34 per cent more than 2011. Drive, tenacity, intellectual agility and the ability to build relationships are attributes we look for in students, however they join us. It’s key that students take responsibility for seizing opportunities. The extent to which they do so is the biggest differentiator between those that leave school or university with the talents employers want, and those that don’t.

Richard Irwin is head of student recruitment at PwC.