Professor Robert Barrington, a faculty member at the Centre for the Study of Corruption who teaches both the campus-based and online Masters in Corruption & Governance, reflects on the employment prospects for those who follow this course. The course brochure can be found here.
As the academic year draws to a close, students and prospective students from throughout the world will be thinking of whether to study at Masters level. In an insecure economic environment, the prospect of further study can be both attractive and off-putting: attractive because it gives a period out of the job market and a qualification that will be of use in the future, but off-putting because it can mean taking out loans to pay for the course and specialising in a particular area where there is no guarantee of future employment.
Jobs are a theme of this blog, because they have featured so strongly in my recent conversations with students.
One of the privileges of our MA in Corruption & Governance is the diverse background of the students. This is both geographical and professional diversity. This year’s cohort have come from Myanmar, Germany, Malawi, Cote d’Ivoire, South Africa, Costa Rica, Japan, Trinidad, and Burundi, as well as the UK. Many have scholarships, including the prestigious Chevening Scholarships – but if I were to change one thing, it would be to have available funding for many more scholarships. Our course has up to a couple of dozen students each year, but we could fill it two or three times over from existing applicants if they had more access to scholarships.
That’s important, because this is not a course that is just about intellectual curiosity. We base much of our teaching on the current research of the faculty, but as a faculty we are also active in feeding research into policy debates – advising the G20 Anti-Corruption Working Group, developing the evidence-base for the UK’s Home Office, or designing risk-based procurement approaches for governments around the world (and winning an IMF prize in the process). We want our research to have real-world impact, and our teaching to be producing the anti-corruption experts of the future.
Of course, for those who want to study part-time or for students who can afford the fees but not the living and travel expenses, there is the option to do our online Masters in Corruption & Governance. This is not the same course just delivered by Zoom. It’s a specially designed online course, using the latest distance learning techniques. My colleagues and I have got used to the online team from Pearson talking to us about storyboards, interactives, podcasts and accordions.
Back to jobs. It’s worthwhile saying that around a third – and many more for the online course – are already employed, and doing the course in a year off agreed with their employer or part-time. We have senior officials from an anti-corruption agency and a tax authority, an investigative journalist, a civil society activist, a whistleblower (taking an enforced career break), an accountant and a former CEO of an oil company, to name but a few. Many of them will resume their existing careers after the MA. Others come to us as graduates from around the world, about to enter their careers. They are usually particularly keen to take the internship module, where we help them find a three-month placement during the MA to get practical anti-corruption work experience.
Where do our students end up? Some examples from last year: a senior compliance role in the private sector; the anti-fraud and corruption unit of the health ministry in Mexico; returning to a senior role in Transparency International. Our new brochure for the course has other examples of alumni and their careers. Even in a constrained jobs market, knowing about corruption and governance has attractions to a wide range of employers. But you don’t need to restrict your future employment choices to the fields of corruption and governance. Even if (like the student who went on to become a chef) you end up doing something completely different, a good degree from a good university never does any harm to your intellectual development, self-confidence and employability. Corruption and governance are hot topics in politics, economics, business studies and international development and apply to almost every contemporary problem from climate change to Covid-19.
Of course, though we all like to eat, our own vocation as faculty members is not to produce too many chefs. We teach these courses because we believe the world needs a new generation of anti-corruption specialists: tackling the scourge of corruption while armed with the best tools, the best understanding, and the best support network. Think about joining us.