These are the top 10 most “pointless degrees”

Film studies, media studies and drama have been ranked among the most “pointless degrees” according to new research.

The study found acting was the top waste of time, followed by outdoor adventure and environment and office skills.

One in four graduates now regret having gone to university, the research shows.

The most common reasons to rue time spent in further education are paying too much for their degree, wasting their time and making bad choices such as not choosing subject or institution more carefully.

Nearly half of the 2,000 graduates surveyed now work in a job where they could have reached the same level through a trainee or apprenticeship scheme.

And although an overwhelming 93 per cent said they enjoyed their experience of freedom away from their parents, nearly half agree their current job is in no way related to their degree.

Joe Crossley, Business Development Director, of Qube Learning who commissioned the study, said: “It’s natural for a lot of graduates to finish their degrees expecting to jump on the career ladder almost immediately, but this is often far from the truth.

“Many students feel the pressure to achieve a high grade otherwise they feel they risk being unemployable but when they finally secure a job, their qualification becomes redundant.

“It’s also surprising how few undergraduates are advised on alternative routes to university studies. With the amount of debt now accompanying higher education, other options, like Apprenticeships, need to be made more clearly available to people looking to pursue a chosen career.”

More than four in five agree there is an emphasis on achieving either a 2:1 or first classification with a third admitting they don’t even get asked about their degree in job interviews.

The research found just a fifth were made aware of apprenticeships as an option in place of undergraduate university studies following A Levels, with less than five per cent told about distant or online learning.

One quarter graduated without any qualifications useful to their career, with just under half admitting they could be where they are now without a degree.

The study found a list of degrees that Brits think are a ‘waste of time’ with Fashion, Drama and Media Studies appearing in the top ten.

Nearly two thirds of respondents who graduated with qualifications considered ‘pointless’ admitted their degree didn’t help them to secure their current job.

It was also revealed the university degrees that the nation believe to be the most useful, with 88 per cent agreeing a degree in Medicine beats a degree in Law or Engineering.

However, just under half of those who have studied a degree in Medicine said they could have gotten the same job through an apprenticeship scheme or something similar.

One in five said because of their studies they are now behind either those who did apprenticeships or those who went straight into work.

Two in five said they feel they are underpaid in their current job despite having a degree with less than one in ten using skills developed during their degree on a weekly basis.

One in ten have since changed careers since graduating and are now investing their time in new qualifications.

One in five admits to working in an unpaid role in order to get their current job with more than one in ten never using skills developed during their degree.

Half of respondents said time management was one of their most treasured takeaways from their experience compared to 29 per cent whose most valuable skills were the ones bespoke to their chosen career.

If given the option to go back and do it all again, nearly one quarter of grads would go down an alternative route to university studies such as an apprenticeship, online qualification or learning a trade.

Over half agree their university experience did more for their social life than their education, with nearly one in five leaving university having met their partner.

A sixth of graduates admitted to wasting their time at university and a further one third of respondents said the ability to make new friends was a key skill gained from their experience.

Joe Crossley continued: “It’s imperative that people from as young as 16 years old should be made aware of the educational choices that are out there for them. It does not have to be a traditional path of A-Levels and University, there is a huge amount of scope for individuals to learn a trade, through Traineeships and Apprenticeships, whilst being educated at the same time.”


1. Acting
2. Outdoor adventure and environment
3. Office skills
4. Film studies
5. Dance / choreography
6. Drama studies
7. Celtic and Anglo Saxon Studies
8. Fashion merchandising
9. Media studies
10. Religious Studies


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12 Responses

  1. Ian Hall

    Sadly you have misunderstood what education is! Tbh I admire and respect all those kids doing acting and outdoor ed as they are the risk takers that enrich our society! Otherwise it would be saturated by dreary people that write about economics and business!

  2. Chris

    What utter nonsense. 3 of us did Drama degree: one moved to New York and works at the United Nations; the other has just been promoted in Investec and immigrated to his dream country and I am 2 positions from the top of my organsiation and supporting my entire family financially. Our Drama degrees opened up our minds; allowed us to think and act creatively; taught us discipline and tenacity; taught us good communication skills- written, verbal and physical. It also taught me empathy. It was what I was good at and enjoyed, and it opened up so may life pathways for me. I’m very glad I did my Drama degree and if I could go back to the very beginning I would do exactly the same again. Stop limiting young people by forcing them into ‘ sensible’ degrees with the lure of money and power. You sound like a dull grandpa. Interestingly, my partner did a law degree, feels trapped in his career and is absolutely miserable.

  3. Jacqui Hood

    I have to concur with Mr Hall. Education, particularly further education is not about getting you a job. It is about widening your understanding of the world, and achieving an academic level which requires you to broaden your view and outlook. The Arts are specifically about our world, who we are as people, and embody the type of soft skills and out of the box thinking that much industries pay for in workshops, team bonding and consultancy fees – which they would not need so much, if they chose graduates with a wider, more Arts based education. Education opens your eyes, you as the individual have to create the opportunities.

  4. Glen

    Is this balanced reporting?
    Is this an example of well-researched journalism?
    Where are the counter arguments?
    How are we to understand in what way an education is meaningful and has value?
    Where is the questioning of the assumptions that underpin the judgements being made about the value of such courses?
    Is the author aware of the need to handle facts and values together?
    What are the authors responsibilities to his readership and the wider public?
    What does the author think actors, the arts, theatre, outdoor experiences, the environment (etc) contribute to communities and society?
    Why is forging a career in these areas so challenging and how could we support those whose contribution in those areas fits with their talents and strengths to make that contribution?
    I do hope a more balanced piece of reporting might come of this.
    Very humbly…

  5. Bebe

    It saddens me to see both my degree subjects on this list, not because it devalues my degree and my possibilities. It saddens me because this mirrors how the government views and treat the arts. When studies show that creative subjects such as art, drama etc contribute to so many aspects of a child and adults academic development throughout all subjects, general happiness and confidence and helping to unlock their full potential. We as a society and our government are using the words ‘Pointless’ and ‘Waste of Time’, putting these subjects down. I know my degree and studies were not Pointless and a Waste of Time and I feel every child I make a positive impact on through my work as a teacher and mentor will disagree. I am not pointless or a waste of time.

  6. Aidan

    This is bullshit! All those famous actors and comedians studied drama and/or acting. Vicars studied religious studies. It’s clear whoever made this up has been wasting their time

  7. Len Hazell

    No knowledge is pointless and all learning is a reward in and of itself, because it teaches you to think!
    This is the sort of list created by the same Philistines who have been taking arts out of the schools in order to turn them in to production stations for factory fodder, and fast food serving machines.
    People are not commodities and life is more than work.
    The arts are the mother and father of freedom, NEVER believe freedom is pointless, lest you will wake up one morning to find you are a slave.

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