Category Archives: accountancy

“Maths makes you boring”: Negative reactions to maths degrees revealed

The questions and comments, as well as the answers the graduates gave, have been visualised here.

The questions and comments, as well as the answers the graduates gave, have been visualised here.

For many prospective students, university is the chance to study in depth something they’re passionate about. While school gives us a broad and varied education, higher education gives us the chance to truly specialise. Some will study purely for passion while others have a definite career in mind. Unfortunately, for some students, their choices can mean they become the butt of other students’ jokes.

Stereotypes exist across a host of degree areas. For those studying Maths, Accountancy and Finance the main preconception they have to deal with is that they’re a bore. Both in the workplace and the classroom there is a long held idea that Maths is boring and that, by proxy, those who study it are too.

To get an understanding of how these degrees are currently perceived, financial broker Spread Co spoke to some recent graduates and asked them to share some of the comments they’d received from colleagues and peers on their degree choice.

Students from a range of courses including Accountancy and Business & Management were interviewed. All of the graduates they spoke to were in full employment but even then had to deal with some quite personal questioning. One graduate was asked “Won’t you want to kill yourself doing that 9-5?”and another received questions including “You just add up, how hard can it be?” While these questions may seem initially harmless, it shows a lack of understanding of the well-rounded individuals these students are.

To help fight the stigma they received, the graduates were also encouraged to respond to their inquisitors and tell them about something they’d done they were proud of. As you would expect, all of the students gave fantastic responses to their critics with one graduate telling how they’d just climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro and another telling them that they’d just recently become the youngest partner in their company’s history. The full image campaign can be viewed here.

While there is inevitably more that we can do to dispel myths like these, thankfully for universities, prospective students don’t seem to be put off.  In fact, 2015 saw more applications than ever to courses in the subject area with an extra 2,500 applications, around a 6% rise from 2014’s figures. There was in fact only a 1% rise in overall applications, meaning for Maths and Accounting to see such an increase in applicants is testament to the fact that many students are recognising the value of having such a degree.

With increasing pressure for students in such a volatile job market it seems that many people are choosing more traditional, vocational courses with direct job routes. There are huge benefits to the working in finance too, with starting salaries for accountants for example around £4,000 more than the average for graduates in their first roles from other backgrounds. While studying, courses in these areas also have a much higher percentage of international and overseas students than other courses meaning those studying are exposed to cultures from all over the world. With the business market increasingly more international, this is a big advantage for students.

When deciding on your course of study, don’t pay attention to other people’s perceptions of your subject area. Each course is full of a wide range of people from different backgrounds, with varied abilities and interests bringing a new perspective to ideas.  Accountancy and Finance are the backbone of every business across the globe, from independent start-ups to major corporations, making it a highly desired degree when positions become available. Rather than perpetuating preconceptions, we should celebrate those with the passion and determination to study the subject they love.


Guest blogger – Daniel Yeo – Search Laboratory


What Do Graduates Do?

Although graduate employment levels for 2010-11 were slightly down on the previous year, there were considerable variations between different subjects of study, according to “What Do Graduates Do?” (WDGD) 2012, based on the annual survey of Destinations of Higher Education Leavers that takes place each year.

One career area that clearly bucked the downward trend was Computer Science and IT which showed an 8.5% rise in graduate employment and e-skills UK have forecast that growth in IT employment will grow at twice the UK average until 2020.  Of course, not all entrants into the industry will have studied IT as a main subject at University.

Less good news came unexpectedly from the public sector with a big fall in entrants and the trend extended to include occupational therapists, physiotherapists, radiographers, teachers and probation officers.  These areas each offered over 100 posts less than 2010-11 but the biggest drop was in the number of social work entrants, which fell by 420.  This is certainly not great news for the University of Cumbria, which offers courses in all the professions listed except probation.

The report once again showed the importance of self-employment to graduates from performance arts, media production and art and design. 64.6% or artists and 85.3% of musicians were recorded as being self employed or freelancers six months after graduation.

The Business Studies area is one that exemplifies the “mixed message” theme identified in the WDGD report.  Although it shows up with a higher level of unemployment than average (10.1%) and a sharp drop in the numbers going on to further study, each of the key disciplines of Accountancy, Business Management and Marketing showed high levels of graduates going straight into relevant employment.

They were also some of the subjects that produced less graduates working as Retail, Catering, Waiting and Bar staff, a denomination which covers a large number graduates yet to find a suitable career opportunity by the date of the survey – although longitudinal studies show that many succeed in doing so over a longer period of time.

Public Finance – Drop in Recruitment

Unsurprisingly, public bodies are recruiting less Accountancy trainees due to the recession and economic difficulties. The work of the Audit Commission has also declined, resulting in a drop in numbers of graduates being taken on. Some private sector firms have taken on public sector work but overall recruitment numbers are down.

A few local councils have set up in joint schemes to recruit graduates. The Society of London Treasurers run a graduate scheme which aims to recruit 25 graduates to work in a number of boroughs across London. Professional body CIPFA (Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy) is now working with other regions to look at similar schemes it can work with to deliver the qualification particularly in the Midlands and Wales.

Graduates looking for a career in Public Finance Accountancy need to offer at least a 2.1 degree or an alternative qualification in the accountancy field.