Computer science: the worst degree?

P Computer-science

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Last Friday the UK’s Higher Education Statistics Authority (HESA) published data on the employment rates of graduates (of bachelor degrees) in the UK and one thing is very clear: computer scientists are less likely to be in jobs than graduates in any other broad discipline.

Just 84.7% of recent graduates from full time computer science degrees were in employment in 2009/10, compared to, say, 86% of graduates from the much-maligned “mass communication and documentation” field – that’s “media studies” to the Daily Mail et al.

In contrast 89.6% of mathematical science, the closest analogue to computer science,  graduates (full timers) were in employment.

So, perhaps this is a function of the recession and the decline in financial services employment? Well, it seems not. The low employment rate for computer science graduates is nothing new: in 2005/06 the rate was higher – 88.6% – but still the lowest of the categories listed by HESA (the ‘media studies’ rate was 91.4% and the maths rate 93.9% for that year).

So, what is the reason? Have we too many computer scientists or programmers? Seems unlikely, though it is the case that graduates from mathematics and the physical sciences are quite likely to also be competing with the computer science jobs that are available.

So are the computer science degrees a poor grounding, or are the students who pick this degree deficient in some other way? I really do not know