Yesterday’s excellent BILD Connect event and AGM was held in the Birmingham Conservatoire and that gave the chance to reflect on the question of how useful a university degree should be or, in other words, is employability everything? The recent Vitae09 conference (that I could only follow online) spent much energy discussing the funding and training of research students in the UK and the associated Twitter conversation (#vitae09) again raised the question of whether there should be ‘academic’ degrees and ‘supertech’ degrees. This argument has been raging for many years and variant terms are ‘real’ or ‘research’ degrees versus ‘applied’ or even ‘Mickey Mouse’. Feelings run high and research, not blessed with hundred per cent foresight, is necessarily historical so what does a potential student believe or do? The Birmingham Conservatoire under George Caird has gone a long way to providing a curricular model for a way forward.