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Salient: Victoria University of Wellington Students' Newspaper. Vol. 32, No. 10. 1969.

State cracks down on graduates

State cracks down on graduates

Arts graduates with non-vocational degrees will face increasing difficulty getting suitable work, according to a recent State Services Commission directive.

The directive, which is circulating on a confidential basis, will exclude most masters and honours arts degree graduates from the higher starting salaries they at present enjoy in the public service.

This will result in the highly qualified entrant with a degree which does not include subjects of direct relevance to the contemplated job, being paid the salary for a bachelors degree.

Entrants to the public service coming in with a B.A. usually start around the top of the basic grade—Class 6 in the pay structure—a salary of $2415 per annum.

Masters degrees have until now attracted up to $1000 more.

Only where a higher degree includes some subjects directly relevant to the position, such as a language for the translation section of Internal Affairs Department, or geography for town planning work, will the higher rate be offered in future.

Several public servants are understood to have resigned in part because of the new attitude towards degrees, and there is some doubt as to the position of those at present in the public service on the higher salaries.

Anxiety has been expressed about their prospects for salary rises, and some believe that they may be held back for several years until their salaries have come into line with the new measures.

The Secretary of the Public Service Association, Mr. D. P. Long, said that the P.S.A. would be discussing the matter with the State Services Commission at their next regular meeting, to be held early in June.

He saw the new directive as stemming from a lack of appreciation within the commission of the benefits of education in itself.

"They seem to think that you go to university to get a sort of trade ticket, and the only useful things are geography and physics", Mr. Long said.

The action by the commission may only be part of overall changes which will eventually downgrade the importance of arts faculties in the universities.

"The Public Service has been the clear leader in the recognition of the value of arts degrees", the Secretary of the Victoria University Appointments Board, Mr. A. T Mitchell, said.

Tightening employment, and the increasing proportion of school leavers going to university, has led other employers to question the value of "non-vocational" type arts degrees.

"We've already seen a changed attitude among students—with them pulling in a unit of economics or maths to finish off a degree',, Mr. Mitchell said.

If the altitude of total justification for a university degree prevails, such subjects as political science and philosophy may well be in jeopardy: fewer students may take them to honours and masters level.

The percentage of school leavers attending university has risen sharply in recent years. Certain sectors of the business and commerce fields who traditionally recruited the upper levels of school-leavers are now finding that they have to take graduates—or be content with people of much lower aptitude in general.

Many of the group they formerly culled their cadets from are now at the universities.

This inclination towards a university education may possibly be stronger than apparent economic strains.