Page last updated at 13:59 GMT, Tuesday, 14 July 2009 14:59 UK

Graduates returning to education

graduation ceremony
Research suggests there are 48 graduates applying for every job

Concerns about the jobs market have led to a huge increase in the number of graduates returning to education.

The universities of Glamorgan, Newport, Glyndwr, UWIC and Swansea Metropolitan all say take up of post-graduate courses has risen dramatically.

They report rises of between 22% and 59%.

Other universities such as Bangor and Swansea also reported small increases in the number of students choosing to spend more time in education.

BBC Radio Wales' Wales at Work programme found the jobs market appears tough for graduates, with a recent survey for business organisation CBI suggesting 38% of firms across the UK are freezing their graduate recruitment schemes.

Many students are being forced to revise their expectations
Luke Young, Swansea University student union

In Wales, the number of graduates still unemployed after six months increased from 655 in 2007 to 1,015 in 2008.

Research from the Association of Graduate Recruiters (AGR) claimed there were 48 graduates applying for each available job.

Wayne Harvey from accountants Deloitte said he had heard of some companies offering their graduates between £5,000 to £10,000 to defer their promised placement for a year.

The AGR annual conference in Newport last week was told that one in four graduate jobs had been cut since the recession started.

Chief executive Carl Gilleard said although this recession was not as tough for students as the early 1990s, when one in three vacancies was cut, this year's graduates had the added burden of trying to pay off student loans.

"A lot of people there were shocked at the figures," he said. "They realised the situation in their own companies was bad but didn't realise how widespread it was."

Swansea University student union president Luke Young said students were leaving college with "staggering" amounts of debt.

"Many students are being forced to revise their expectations," he said. "They're not proud and are willing to take on any kind of job."

The bleak outlook is causing many graduates to simply stay in education.

Researchers on the Wales at Work programme spoke to 11 Welsh universities, eight of which said they had seen a rise in the number of post-graduate applications.

The biggest were at the universities of Newport (59%), Cardiff University (45%), UWIC (44%), Swansea Met (33%), Glyndwr (25%) and Glamorgan (22%).

Trinity College, Carmarthen said post-graduate applications were up by 17.5% while Swansea University saw a 2.2% rise. Bangor and Aberystwyth did not provide figures but both reported small rises.

Wales at Work, BBC Radio Wales, on Tuesday at 1830 BST

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