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What Is Academic Inflation, And What To Do About It

Submitted by on September 10, 2012 – 5:41 pmNo Comment | 6,953 views

graduationAs I surfed the internet last week, I came across an interesting article on Wikipedia about academic inflation. It is a phenomenon that we could have observed over the last 10 years, but for which I had no way to call it by name; academic inflation is an inflation process of minimum requirements as a result of too many college education individuals compete over too few jobs requiring these qualifications. As a result, minimum qualifications for the same jobs are increased, requiring a higher form of education in order to obtain the job.

I remember, when I started my education in 1998, that having a bachelor’s degree was really good, and a prerequisite in order to acquire a job in a business environment, whereas an academic university’s degree was only required for some specific types of business jobs (e.g. business consulting, Mergers & Acquisitions), which required skills not taught during a bachelor’s degree. Furthermore, university education had always been an important pre-requisite for the academic type of career.  In some cases, a bachelor’s degree would even allow graduates to take part in traineeship programmes, allowing them to take upon a lower management level job within 1 or 2 years of graduation.

I finished education in 2003, and the tide has turned. Half of the vacancies, which focussed on the type of work I had studied for, already required a university degree, or Masters degree. Those vacancies, which required bachelor’s degrees, I found were quite below my capabilities, and typically involved much administrative work.

Academic inflation will probably not come to a halt, since more and more people can afford to go to college and even university. Today there are large streams of young professionals pursuing an MBA, in order to be able to advance their career faster. Language skills will also become increasingly important. I recognised that in order to keep my current job, advance my career, and remain competitive in general, I will need to become pro-active, in every way I can, during my entire life.

Continuous academic advancement

Academic inflation does not only take place at a bachelor’s level. More and more individuals are attending university, and MBAs are increasingly becoming popular. Therefore, each individual will need to advance his academic graduation to the maximum possible. For people having full-time jobs, there are many part-time programmes to take part in. The more well-known universities may offer these programmes at a high price, but there are many other universities, which are not priced that expensively and which are still accredited. After a Bachelor’s degree, one could pursue his Master’s degree, an MBA, a doctorate or PhD.

Continuing Professional Education

Apart from the classical academic path of education, many organisations offer certificates that demonstrate a specific skill in a certain area or expertise. This can be the Organisation of Certified Accountants, or the Association of Proposal Management Professionals. Obtaining such a certificate from a recognised professional organisation is not an academic degree, but does demonstrate experience and expertise. These last two traits are at least as important as an academic grade.


Companies are increasingly becoming more and more international, if they are not so already. Additionally, nations are emerging. Think aboutChinafor a moment; there are more Chinese speaking people around the world than there are English speaking people. Nothing speaks against such languages gaining importance in the future. As a measurement, I have already taken upon a Chinese course, and I intend taking a Japanese and an Arabic course in future.

Gaining experience in different fields

As a measurement to stay competitive, I have decided to make different experiences with different companies in different roles. This keeps my mind sharp, and I see how different organisations and departments within corporations function. If you have worked all your life as a salesperson, might be very difficult to get into marketing or finance at some point.

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