Face Off: do you need a university degree to get a job?

YP ReporterHeather Ng

Each week, two of our readers debate a hot topic in a parliamentary-style debate that doesn’t necessarily reflect their personal viewpoint. This week...

YP ReporterHeather Ng |

Latest Articles

Black Lives Matter movement goes virtual in ‘Animal Crossing’

New National Security office opens in Hong Kong near usual protest area

Part 3: China forces birth control on Uygur minority to curb Muslim population in Xinjiang

Shum Long-hin, 15, King George V School

It depends on the career you want to pursue. Jobs like software engineer or psychologist definitely require you to have a university degree. In addition, a licence is compulsory for some jobs.

University graduates have better opportunities and usually earn a higher salary. A university degree also allows you to further advance your career, and shows that you have good knowledge of a specific field. It provides job security and the skills needed to carry out your tasks.

On the other hand, those without a university degree must fight even harder for what they want. It’s going to be a huge challenge for them. They must force themselves to learn through books and by meeting new people. Without a degree, it is harder to gain work experience because most companies look to recruit university students as interns.

You should also consider the life-changing experience offered by studying at university: becoming self-reliant, and making friends with people from different walks of life.

The reality is that people without degrees are looked down upon, even if they have unique skills. When many candidates fight for a limited number of vacancies, a university degree could be the difference.

In conclusion, the usefulness of a university degree depends on how far you want to go. Either way, it doesn’t guarantee success. Many things depend on luck – nobody knows what the future holds.

Although getting a university degree requires a lot of hard work, it prepares you for a rewarding career and a more fruitful life.


Heather Ng Xin-yi, 17, YMCA of Hong Kong Christian College

Adverts lure students to universities with the promise of top jobs and a good salary. However, the sad truth is that only a handful of students enjoy such a lifestyle, leaving the rest deep in debt.

More and more employers are disregarding university degrees as a requirement for job applications, leaving jobseekers and students to wonder if their investment in tertiary education is worth the trouble and effort. For example, in 2016, international publishing house Penguin Random House decided to drop degrees as a requirement for job applicants because the company said it hoped to attract more diverse people. University graduates would still be welcome, but people would be hired based on their performance at the interview.

Earlier, accountancy firm Ernst & Young had declared that it would no longer consider A-level results and degrees when hiring.

Companies are making these changes because there is no clear link between a degree and your ability to do a good job. Most university graduates are “book smart” but lack the soft skills, such as leadership and teamwork, sought by many companies.

In Hong Kong, thousands of university graduates are fighting for a limited number of vacancies. As a result, statistics have shown they end up in lower-level jobs with low salaries and hardly use their professional knowledge at work. Sometimes, university graduates may even be competing with non-degree holders for the same jobs.

A 2013 survey in Hong Kong stated several reasons why companies would not hire fresh graduates. Among them was a lack of experience, expectations of a high salary, and an inability to work independently.

So many successful leaders, such as Bill Gates, Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg, didn’t receive university degrees.

Therefore, I believe, it’s your skill and talent – and hard work – that matter.

Edited by M. J. Premaratne