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The number of undergraduate degrees awarded in the UK is five times as big as it was in 1990. 50% of young adults now go on to higher education, compared with just 8-19% in the 1970s and 80s.

As a result, simply having a degree isn’t enough to stand out from the crowd, particularly in a competitive field like marketing. Students must therefore be more selective about the courses they choose, aiming for the universities that will afford them the best career prospects on graduation. So which universities are considered the best for marketing at the moment, and how can students enhance their career prospects once they graduate?

Top ranking universities for marketing

According to the 2020 Guardian University Guide rankings, the top 10 universities for marketing in 2021 are, in descending order, the University of Oxford, the University of St Andrews, the University of Bath, Loughborough University, the University of Warwick, the University of Leeds, the University of Exeter, Lancaster University, the University of Derby, and the University of Southampton. However, while these universities clearly offer outstanding courses in the field, there are more considerations to take into account for those looking to a career in marketing.

LinkedIn has compiled a list of the top 25 universities for marketing, but it does not limit its recommendations to degree performance. Instead, the researchers have cross-referenced the career paths of LinkedIn members, considering the moves of marketing executives and identifying the top companies in the industry — particularly those which have a high staff retention. The rankings were established based on the number of graduates who secured marketing jobs at those companies, and therefore the list measures the universities with the highest success rate in sending graduates to the most prestigious firms rather than on the levels of achievement shown in the courses.

Beyond academic success 

It is clear that savvy students need to look beyond the best courses if they want to compete for the top positions in marketing. This also extends to their resume as a whole: those who really want to stand out from their peers will need more than a good degree to shine. Internships are no longer considered impressive; rather, they have become standard, and most employers will expect to see them on a CV. Students will therefore need to make sure their experience stands out: rather than interning solely at marketing agencies, successful candidates will have a range of experience, having worked in a variety of different marketing environments.

This will also allow students to narrow down their specialism, learning early on which area they’d most like to work in. Those intent on mobile app marketing, for example, will have spent time working with a dedicated company and learning the specific requirements of the niche. By the time they apply for full time positions, they’ll be familiar with developing content marketing strategies for apps and will be experienced at making an app stand out in one of the most competitive markets there is. 

Keeping up with changes

Successful marketing graduates will also need to be aware of how quickly the industry changes. Unlike in traditional subjects, effective solutions can’t be found through study: they are found through creation and innovation. A useful illustrative example is social media, which has only recently been included in academic courses. Professional marketers weren’t taught how to use social media effectively: they used their skills and education to map the course on their own. Technological advancements are significant in the world of marketing, and successful graduates will need to roll with the times, constantly taking initiative to keep up to date with changes. 

Marketing is one of the most competitive industries in the graduate world. Successful candidates must therefore choose their degrees wisely and look beyond academic teaching to make themselves stand out in the field.

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