Against the background of converging European HE systems, this thesis takes a comparative perspective on the value of a degree. It explores how undergraduate students construct and understand the value of their degree and how far these views relate to wider national constructions of value found in policy and in financial returns to education. The study used a mixed research model, triangulating between various sources and methods. Discussion groups were conducted with a total of 27 first-year bachelors degree students, in London at University College London and in Oslo at the University of Oslo; half were studying Biology and half Economics. A comparative review of policy is also set out, drawing on recent, comparative sources, particularly work by Kogan et al. (2006). The measurable value of a degree is investigated through a comparison of OECD rate of return measures (2008, 2009). This study draws on Ritzer’s integrative theory of social analysis, assuming that national constructions of degree value draw on macro level factors (HE policy and economic data) and micro level factors (students’ views), and that these include objective and subjective factors (Ritzer & Goodman, 2004). It employs a narrative approach to analysis and a theoretically generated framework of key narratives about the value of higher education aid national comparisons and support links between aspects of value.Students’ discussions reveal a common set of expectations about a degree: benefits in access to higher status, more interesting work are vital; the overall university experience is widely discussed; and, increased knowledge about their subject or gaining transferable skills are important to many. However, subject groups and national groups suggest differences in how these benefits are understood and prioritised. English students demonstrate a narrower, more instrumental idea of degree value, focused on establishing security and a competitive advantage in finding work. Improved job opportunities are also vital to Norwegian students but as part of a broader sense of value where self-development and interest in their subject, are emphasised. These differences reflect national policy priorities and approaches. The role of financial measures in shaping students’ views and policy is shown to be important but problematic, as this comparison suggests such measures offer a limited perspective to explaining differences in national systems. The findings also raise important questions about the direction of change in each national system, particularly the potential impact of changes in graduate employment patterns and wage premiums on the social role of higher education.