Up to a fifth of graduates ‘without work’ after university in UK

A fifth of students are being left without a job six months after
graduating from some British universities, according to official
figures.

By Graeme Paton, Education Editor

Thousands of graduates face claiming unemployment benefits after
completing degree courses because of a squeeze on well-paid positions
during the economic downturn, it emerged.

At London South Bank University, some 22 per cent of students were
without a job or place on another course after six months, figures
show.

The unemployment rate stood at around 21 per cent at both Bolton and
East London universities, while almost 19 per cent of ex-students
failed to secure work or further study at University College
Birmingham and Westminster University, it was revealed.

Students at these universities were around twice as likely to be out
of work as the national average. Across Britain, some one-in-10
university leavers were without a job or postgraduate course.

Some 9.6 per cent Oxford graduates were left jobless after six months,
while at Cambridge the unemployment rate stood at 8.4 per cent.

The disclosure – in figures published by the Higher Education
Statistics Agency – comes amid mounting concerns over the pressure on
the graduate jobs market.

A separate study published earlier this week suggested that some
companies were even considering screening out any student who fails to
score a first-class degree because the surge in applications.

It emerged that more than 150 graduates were now competing for jobs in
the retail industry and 142 were vying for investment banking posts.

Dr Phil Cardew, pro vice-chancellor at London South Bank University,
said the data could not be compared nationally as it reflected “the
employment prospects as much of local communities as of all
graduates”.

He added that the figures had been “adversely affected by the economic
climate of our local communities”, adding: “We are very much a
community-based university. Of course, our employment indicators for
part-time, and sub-degree courses are far higher.”

Prof Patrick McGhee, chairman of Million+, which represents many new
universities, said: “It’s clear that at a time of high unemployment
studying for a degree is still a very good way of getting a job.
Modern universities offer a very wide range of programmes and welcome
people of all ages including those who want to study part-time.

“There is still time for people to find out how they could start
studying for a degree in the autumn to help them get the job they want
in the future.”