To answer this question, we must first analyze what has happened with previous crises in postgraduate studies.
The closest example we have is the financial crisis of 2008, in which there was a significant increase in students pursuing postgraduate studies rather than trying to enter a difficult job market.
Can we say that the same scenario is repeating itself?
At the moment, the first signs are indicating us a situation similar to the last great crisis, the so-called “International Financial Crisis”, but what is different in terms of the explosive globality of Covid-19, which has attacked health and economy simultaneously throughout the world.
As the economies of our European environment are showing signs of a significant paralysis in their productive activities, showing clear recessive signs in all of them, it is likely that the labor market for graduates will suffer a considerable impact.
If there is no growth there is no employment, therefore, the need arises to occupy the time studying.
While the graduate community appears to be outperforming the job market as a whole, it is understandably a worrying time for college and business schools.
While students at both levels wonder what their career prospects are going to be at the end of 2020, it is logical that they simultaneously assume they will be affected by the economic crisis that will follow the health crisis.
It also happens that due to all the information that reaches us, both locally in Spain and in the rest of the EU, companies indicate that they will hire fewer graduates in response to the impact of the pandemic.
And this has an immediate effect on graduates aspiring to transition to work in the coming months, because they will face unprecedented challenges when looking for a job.
Very large doors will be opened to instability and uncertainty, which will have various effects on the decision and willingness to follow postgraduate courses, or given the particular circumstances of the candidate, accept a type of job even if it is assumed that it is not in accordance with their professional qualification by training and qualification.
It is not surprising, therefore, that 36% of finalists surveyed by “Prospects” in the UK indicated that they now plan to remain in higher education rather than start their careers, that is, they prefer a postgraduate rather than a post. The work they know is complicated, at least for a few months. The trend we have seen in previous crises, in which young people often see higher education as the safest option during a recession, repeats once again.
In fact, a 2009 survey by the UK’s National Union of Students (NUS) yielded similar results, with almost a third of respondents indicating they were more likely to enter postgraduate studies immediately after graduation due to the 2008 Financial Crisis.
And with the looming crisis, especially for the 1st semester of 2021 threatening to deepen the current situation of economic and social uncertainty much further, we are likely to see an even greater increase in the number of students enrolling in graduate courses in the next few years, with 29% reporting by survey results that they are looking for online courses when asked what they are doing as a result of the pandemic.
Why do students turn to more studies during crisis
There may be different answers to the question of why they choose the option of studying instead of working.
Since the immediate and logical is that the labor market has expelled them or even worse, it will keep them away from offering them job opportunities.
Of the myriad factors that can influence a student’s choice to continue their studies in times of crisis, the most obvious is the lack of available opportunities.
For example, the “Prospects” survey found that 16% of seniors had lost their jobs as a result of the response to the UK pandemic.
Of them, 50% indicated that they are now considering a graduate course.
Similarly, of the 13% of finalists who reported having their job offer canceled or postponed as a result of the ongoing pandemic, just over two-fifths (43%) suggested that they are now considering a postgraduate course after graduate.
Lack of motivation
Interestingly, the finalists who suggested this were more likely to admit that they lacked motivation in their job search than the sample as a whole.
While 53% of all respondents admit this, more than two-thirds (69%) of finalists considering postgraduate studies due to the current precariousness of the labor market indicated the same.
About the uncertain future how to make it clearer
What all these surveys point to is that students are hungry for information from institutions and the vast majority (93%) express curiosity about the way in which teaching will be carried out if social distancing continues to exist.
But they also want to know what impact any new outbreak of Covid-19 could have on the classrooms that have been opened and that are forced to close at least for a time.
Many of the students indicated that they would be interested in a virtual open house or webinar about the course that interests them, with a common theme that students increasingly seek, such as online participation of the students, being of particular interest tutors and professional services during the temporary closure of the study houses.
Two-fifths of the finalists surveyed indicated that they will use social media to interact with institutions during the pandemic.
Additionally, one-third (32%) plan to attend a virtual open house now that they cannot physically attend.
Obstacles, talent and new opportunities
The work experiences, especially the first ones, that a graduate of a postgraduate course may have, are a clear indicator of which direction things are going to go in regards to their personal and professional development.
We have always argued that you have to know how to capitalize on even negative experiences, which are a good testing bench (without a doubt) but especially true learning.