This is a subject matter many have differing views on. Since this is my “space”, I will focus on my views.
Both are equally important and this general perspective has some general exceptions. Having paper qualifications may and may not make a difference to some profession. By “profession” l am also referring to job descriptions not falling under the category of profession(als) like those governed by professional board or authorities or statutes such as the legal profession. Take a chef or a cook as an example. Would you care whether the chef or cook actually graduated from a top culinary arts university with the highest grade and the highest degree level or whether the chef or cook has a masters degree in any area of the culinary arts? Have you ever asked this question, “Where did this chef graduated from?” Do not lie! Have you really, ever.
Now, let’s take a lawyer as an example. What do you think? A lawyer who has been doing the same or similar work for years would not require to have a masters degree for what he or she does. Having said that, l do believe that having a masters degree would only put him or her at a place higher than the lawyer of the same par. However, am not saying that having done the same thing for years makes one a master at it. I came across a handful of people with seniority in number of years of practise but still lack knowledge and experience.
I have roughly 9 years of experience as a corporate and corporate finance lawyer with experiences in both in the capacity of an advocate and solicitor and an in-house counsel. After roughly 4 years of practising law as a corporate and corporate finance lawyer, I took and completed a masters degree. I am currently certified as a master at corporate laws. Having said that, the laws are ever changing and progressing. Unless I continuously educate myself of the development, I must stop disclosing my masters degree. Naturally, others could expect nothing but a certain high degree of understanding of what I have claimed to be a master at. It is only fair. This is why l completely disagree with the current minimum requirements imposed by most universities in regards to eligibility to qualify for applications for a masters degree. It is unacceptable to me that anyone can apply and qualify to further their studies at the masters degree level. A person with no experience whatsoever or lack experience should not be allowed to qualify! I came across a handful young lawyers with masters degree during my course of interviewing candidates for the legal department. Save for one, the rest with masters degree but without sufficient experience looked rather highly at their “value”. I thought I would do them service by telling them how employers and hiring mangers look at them. I had no intention of putting them down but reality is, their masters degree had no advantage at all. In fact, it made them somewhat over-confident.
Anyhow, what am trying to say here is that, I think that depending on circumstances and some factors, whether paper qualifications take superiority over experiences, is a matter or question that cannot be judged and remain as one over the other.
No offence intended but seriously, I think rather very strongly, that universities should impose and maintain minimum experience requirements before allowing an application for a masters degree to be accepted. A masters degree is one step nearer to a PHD.