Claire Wormsley, founder of Global Conference Network, which provides information and events for the global conference industry, said event management degrees "don't cut it" in the conference industry.
"We don't look at anyone with an event management degree," she said. "If we are looking for a conference producer, we consider someone who has attended a top 20 university, and who could have a degree in law, for example."
She added her research shows there are 78 event management courses in UK universities, more than half of which are three years in duration, and that there are not enough jobs for those studying the discipline.
Neil McLaurin from Keith Prowse also questioned the long-term value of doing an event managment degree. "Within my business, we bring a lot of graduates on board," he said. "Do I believe that you are better if you walk away with a 2:1 in hospitality management? I'm not convinced but it's a very competitive world and when I started 26 years ago there was no such thing as an event management degree."
McLaurin added, however, that for more senior roles "an event management degree means something".
Caterer Moving Venue gave an example of how it has talented staff who have undertaken degrees that are unrelated to event management.
"An event manager who works for us is excellent in her job and she has a degree in music," said Moving Venue managing director Richard Beggs.
Fay Sharpe, founder of agency Zibrant, said when recruiting for the events sector, she did not believe it was particularly important to consider what subject a candidate's degree is in.
The panel was speaking at a session at this year's International Confex, held earlier this week (12-13 March) at London Olympia.
What are your thoughts on event management degrees? Do young event professionals need them to start a career in the industry? Comment below to let us know what you think.
For more in-depth and print-only features, showcases and interviews with world-leading brands, don't miss the next issue of Event magazine by subscribing here.