Culture, Musings
Comments 6

The trouble with university?

Towards the end of my first year of university I quickly started to realise that many graduates would leave HE and not be able to get a job.
This was not because these individuals weren’t academically brilliant but simply because their social skills let them down marvellously and hindered them from applying theory learnt to real life situations.
How I came to the above realisation I don’t know. But I just knew it was so.

“You have to search high and low for those opportunities and even when you do find them they may request for a minimum of 2 years experience”

There’s this thing called ‘transferable skills’ which I know a lot people would have thrown into UCAS statements when initially applying for university.
*waves hands* I am not guilt free. In referring to the term I was honest, in the sense that I looked at things from a wide angled lens. This in contrast to people who use the term as they deem it to sound smart.
I’d like to carefully observe the concept of transferable skills. Taking knowledge and skills out of their indigenous context and applying them appropriately to foreign situations.

The above is what a lot of new graduates fail to do. Graduates are gently shoved and in some cases catapulted (connect with the appropriate) into the professional working world with little or no understanding of what the industry they hope to get into is truly like.

I hope I don’t come across as someone who doesn’t understand the varying plights students face. Because I do. Being a ‘newbie’ designer I’ve always thought it integral to gain experience in the field I want to go in, which primarily is interior design. Getting experience in the creative sectors in London can be a challenge to say the least. You have to search high and low for those opportunities and even when you do find them they may request for a minimum of 2 years experience – annoying much?
After a while you start to think, ok… How about I sit at home for two years seeing as I can’t get a foot in and you just give me a job anyway? It turns into that catch 22 situation that all students and recent graduates are familiar with “I need experience to get experience” *queue the mass of rolling eyes and acknowledging sighs*

“By the time third year hits everything seems to pretty much go from 0 to 150 within the blink of an eye and you kind of just have to deal with it.”

Last summer I was unsuccessful in my quest to find an internship/work experience. However this year I was lucky enough to get the opportunity to start working before donning my cap and gown on Monday and the experience has been eye opening.

About two weeks ago I attended my first ‘big’ industry event hosted by the BCFA where myself and a colleague engaged in a particularly interesting conversation with one of the suppliers. The conversation centred around whether or not a university education needs 3 years. We all came to the conclusion that degree courses could potentially be condensed into two years.
On entering university you spend the first year faffing about and in some cases being a bit of k**b. Second year rolls around and some spend half the year doing the same until a little light bulb comes on and they remember that the marks gained that year will contribute to their overall degree classification. By this time the irreparable damage would have already been done. By the time third year hits everything seems to pretty much go from 0 to 150 within the blink of an eye and you kind of just have to deal with it. “Deal with it” it can read or sound harsh, but these are apart of the realities of entering supposed adulthood no?

I suppose this post is a sense a follow on from the first with regards to being a part-time toe stepper. Yes university is a period for having a laugh and the age old cliche of “discovering who you are” but there is much truth to that. With the experience every avenue of opportunity to turn you into a “well rounded citizen” should be taken no matter how corny it may seem. The reality is university is a bubble and once you return your gown to the supplier it somehow simultaneously pops.

I know hindsight is always “good” but don’t find yourself in compromising situations based on poor decisions due to laziness.

Peace & Love

London keeps designing this girl x


This entry was posted in: Culture, Musings
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Peju Oshin is London born and based Consultant, Curator & Educator


  1. Great post. Although I never went to university as I felt it was a waste of time. Three years being a robot to someone who decides by a grade if I am right or wrong, I couldn’t deal with it. Life skills need to be taught. Failure should be learnt to be embraced, especially in the creativity industries, to be creative, one must be willing to take risks, risks = success or failure, but does education encourage that?

    The whole system needs a reform


    • Totally agree with you Alex! And you are a testament as to why the route to and through HE need reform! Failure as you said is not embraced enough when in reality failure is the firmest building block of success and many contemporary entrepreneurs will tell you. #foodforthought


  2. I wouldn’t want to be young and inexperienced now! It’s tough for you guys. Back in the day, everyone knew what was expected of them in terms of skills, now most careers are based on sales or advertising (even in design) and the goal posts are moving all the time. I know a few young people who can’t get any kind of job. Uni doesn’t prepare you for the reality because Uni is mostly interested in the £££’s that come with your application. It’s just a cynical industry for the most part.


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