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A postgraduate qualification could give you an edge in the job market, but is it for you?

By in Education, Research, Policy on February 18, 2016

As we enter an economically uncertain 2016, many South African companies are willing to fight for candidates who are equipped to catapult brands above the competition in the drive for increased market share, providing opportunities for those willing to put themselves in the running. Fay Amaral, Managing Director of Vega School of Brand Leadership (Vega), a brand of The Independent Institute of Education (The IIE), examines the question commonly investigated by recent undergraduates and working professionals alike: ”Should I pursue a postgraduate qualification and will it make me more marketable in the current economy?”

An Honours degree, by its very nature, is both a preparation for postgraduate study and a capstone to an undergraduate degree. Honours is the culmination of a formal tertiary education, an experience that seeks to extend ones intellectual range; hone research capabilities and analytical and communication techniques; and develop the personal and professional skills needed to see a research project through to completion. Honours can also be the first step on a path to a career as a skilled executive, an academic or a professional researcher. It is, therefore, safe to say that it certainly is not for everyone, but for those who brave additional degree study, the rewards are endless.

The generalisation that an Honours degree will put one in a better position to demand a higher salary than someone who just completed their undergraduate degree mostly holds true. This is because the skill levels of postgraduate students are higher, which usually translates to the figure on their paycheque.

Also, having an Honours degree in South Africa opens many more doors internationally. In most countries, where four year degrees are the norm, the Honours year forms part of an undergraduate degree. So a South African honours degree puts one on par with international counterparts in seeking suitable employment.

Surprisingly, there are credible cons to why people choose to forego postgraduate studies. Number one is the high cost of full time studies. For this reason, in structuring The IIE *Bachelor of Arts Honours in Strategic Brand Communications, we were cognisant of these challenges and chose to make studying a postgraduate qualification at Vega more accessible through the option of a payment plan and by offering scholarships to students of exceptional talent who would otherwise not be in a position to afford the fees.

Prospective students can choose to study either fulltime (1 year) or part-time (18 months), empowering students who need to work to pay off their studies with the opportunity to do so. To ensure that honours graduates have practical skills, Vega’s fulltime students are required to undergo an internship during their year of study, ensuring that our Honours graduates work ready, giving them the confidence to reach further in their chosen field.

The Honours programme in Strategic Brand Communication, offered by The IIE which is also recognised by the British Accreditation Council, encompasses the full journey of brand discovery, from in-depth analyses to fine-tuned strategy, all the while engaging in creativity. This is the time when students will learn to delve into the very heart of a brand in order to understand it and what it means to the world, thus being able to unmask its potential for adding genuine shared value to stakeholders and society. Through this process, post-graduate students start to see the world in an exciting and enriching new way and can build the kind of strong, successful business they can believe in.

Honours programmes suit individuals who are passionate about building brands for the betterment of society, and who strive to reach the pinnacle of their career potential. Every student acts as a catalyst, challenging and inspiring the others in some way, whilst teams of deeply committed academic and experienced lecturers guide them towards their goals. The result of this dynamic and powerful engagement is evidenced by the 90% pass rate.

The efficacy of the Vega Honours programme is demonstrated by Vega Alumni who have gone on to become sought-after brand leaders in the international marketing, business and design arenas.

As the world shifts and new, often previously unimagined, brands are bringing the relevance of older brands into question, Vega will continue to shape future leaders whose agility will meet the changing demands of an evolving South African, African and global economy.

2016 Registration closes on 29 February. Visit www.vegaschool.com for more information.