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    I was thinking about this the other day: especially in the sciences, it's true that a physics degree anywhere pretty much teaches the same physics, or at least does if it is accredited by the IoP.

    No Uni has some copyrighted unique physics, and undergraduate study is like glorified A-levels but more tough, broader and difficult obviously.

    So why is there appears to be such a large disparity in how graduates do in the same field?

    I just wonder if an objectively smart person went to a very poor Uni to study a subject how far hindered he would be if he learns the same exact stuff and in both cases would have earnt a 1st class degree?
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    (Original post by DrSebWilkes)
    So why is there appears to be such a large disparity in how graduates do in the same field?

    I just wonder if an objectively smart person went to a very poor Uni to study a subject how far hindered he would be if he learns the same exact stuff and in both cases would have earnt a 1st class degree?
    Is there? Especially when controlled for your final paragraph, and also location, etc.
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    It would be very difficult to measure whether this happens or not, but ultimately I don’t think it does happen in the manner you suggest (from my experience of HE and recruitment).

    People like to bang on about university prestige, and I am sure that some people will find some stats about university earnings being higher at certain universities or the percentage of people in highly rated jobs coming from a small selection of universities, as proof that university prestige matters.

    Trouble is that these stats don’t factor in many variable factors - previous academic achievement, previous work experience (pretty important factor), desired career paths, desired career location, lifestyle choices, commitments outside of work, are just a few that will mean the demographic of a cohort of students will be very different from one university to the next.

    Even on an individual level, if someone with exceptional academics selects a certain low ranked university over one which they could choose that’s much higher, there is typically rationale behind that decision and that same rationale is likely to affect which career path they will choose afterwards. It means it is exceptionally rare to find someone with an identical profile at a top 5 university vs one in the bottom 25.

    I have worked in industries where there is a perception that university prestige has a major influence on the recruitment process. But when those similar “rare” individuals do come up in the process, I have seen them be successful. I know, I’ve hired enough in the City to know it isn’t the issue you have suggested.

    A degree means very little in most job applications. It might be a pre-requisite for the job but people rarely look in detail at the content of the degree subject. Where they do, it’s typically that very specific knowledge is required (eg knowledge of coding language). But even then that can sometimes be gained outside of a degree or can be demonstrated more clearly than in a degree transcript.

    The one thing I do stress about going to the best university you can is the opportunities it will provide to you. Those will affect how easily it will be to guide you on your career path and that should not be underestimated. Factors such as being in a cohort of students with similar career aspirations will guide you. Having academics who used to work in the industry that you aspire to work in, will help you. Having more potential employers come on campus and try to recruit you, will help you. But especially in a time of online information and online networking, it’s possible to gain all of those things no matter where you study if you are proactive enough. Just some universities will have so much of that going on that you can passively absorb those factors, and life will be that little bit easier.
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    (Original post by DrSebWilkes)
    I was thinking about this the other day: especially in the sciences, it's true that a physics degree anywhere pretty much teaches the same physics, or at least does if it is accredited by the IoP.

    No Uni has some copyrighted unique physics, and undergraduate study is like glorified A-levels but more tough, broader and difficult obviously.

    So why is there appears to be such a large disparity in how graduates do in the same field?

    I just wonder if an objectively smart person went to a very poor Uni to study a subject how far hindered he would be if he learns the same exact stuff and in both cases would have earnt a 1st class degree?
    Universities don't all teach the same material, though, or cover it to the same depth, or exam it as rigorously. However, in many cases, that's not particularly relevant as many of the degrees that students take have few graduates progress into a career in that field, i.e. they are academic degrees. Physics is one of those: how many physics graduates will go into jobs where they utilise the physics material taught in their degrees? This isn't a swipe at academic degrees, I'm just pointing out that in many cases the degree you studied and the modules it included aren't really important.

    I think the biggest factor that is that some universities have intakes that are more motivated to do well and are, on average, more capable and able; and also, that some universities also have intakes of students who are much more interested in the types of well paying careers that are commonly discussed on here.
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    (Original post by DrSebWilkes)
    I was thinking about this the other day: especially in the sciences, it's true that a physics degree anywhere pretty much teaches the same physics, or at least does if it is accredited by the IoP.

    No Uni has some copyrighted unique physics, and undergraduate study is like glorified A-levels but more tough, broader and difficult obviously.

    So why is there appears to be such a large disparity in how graduates do in the same field?

    I just wonder if an objectively smart person went to a very poor Uni to study a subject how far hindered he would be if he learns the same exact stuff and in both cases would have earnt a 1st class degree?
    There is a basic minimum of physics a degree course must cover to be IoP accredited, however some (most) courses go beyond this and as such there can be a wide variation in content in physics university courses, especially in fourth year where the better universities will have a much more in depth and breadth in options due to more academics with expertise in different fields.

    Another reason why there may be a disparity in how graduates do is that universities set their own exams, unlike in A levels where everyone sits more or less the same exam (for a particular syllabus). There can be a huge disparity in the difficulty of exam questions between different institutions even if they are examining broadly similar material, much in the same way STEP is much harder than A level maths, despite ostensibly examining the same material. For this reason, it's much harder to obtain 2.1/first in some maths/physics courses than others.

    How far hindered someone might be if they studied at a poor uni depends on many things, but unless they wanted to go into a career that had a reputation for only recruiting Oxbridge/top RG unis, it probably wouldn't be a problem.
 
 
 
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