Undergraduate Degrees

The undergraduate, or bachelor’s, degree usually represents the first university degree level, generally requires 3–4 years of full-time study, and is a prerequisite for postgraduate study. There is often a connection between undergraduate degrees and professions such as teaching, law, social work, and finance, but career paths vary between countries. Bachelor’s degrees are well established in most countries but are relatively new arrivals in continental Europe, former members of the Soviet Union, and Latin America.

There are three fundamental overlapping debates about undergraduate degrees: (1) what they are for, (2) how should they be paid for, and (3) the extent to which they enable social mobility. These are not new questions, but the ‘marketisation’ of universities, through measurement, competition, and tuition fees, has sharpened their ...

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