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EDITIONS
Monday, 11 November, 2002, 08:43 GMT
Graduate job prospects slide
University bar
It still pays to go to university, says the government
Graduate unemployment has risen for the first time for 10 years at a time when students are leaving college with debts of about 12,000.

The computer industry downturn is blamed for most of the 0.8% rise from 5.5% in 2000 to 6.3% in 2001, according to data collected by universities.

It follows two years where graduate unemployment fell to an all-time low.

The National Union of Students (NUS) has described the new trend as "worrying".


NUS is concerned about a rise in unemployment figures, especially as graduates find themselves in such a perilous financial situation

Mandy Telford, NUS president

Most graduates (67.7%) found a job within six months of leaving university, while nearly a fifth (18.4%) opted to do further study.

People with degrees in civil engineering and accountancy were among those with the best chance of finding work - 79% and 78% got jobs within six months.

Information technology graduate employment tumbled 7.3% from 79.9% to 72.6% in 2001.

Media studies graduates were more employable - almost 75% of those who finished university in 2001 got a job.

Unexpected dip

The report was compiled for the latest What Do Graduates Do? report by the Association of Graduate Careers Advisory Services, the Higher Education Careers Services Unit and the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service.

The careers service chief executive, Mike Hill, said: "We predicted last year that graduate unemployment had levelled out and was unlikely to dip any lower.

"This current increase follows two years where graduate unemployment remained at an all-time low and is still a long way from the highs of 8.2% five years ago and around 12% 10 years ago."

The figures could fuel opposition inside the government to the idea of a graduate tax and boost support for top-up fees as the best way to increase the amount of money going to universities.

Fewer graduates in work would also cut the cash coming to the Treasury from degree holders paying higher income taxes.

Degree benefits

NUS national president, Mandy Telford, said: "NUS is obviously concerned about a rise in unemployment figures, especially as graduates find themselves in such a perilous financial situation.

"Starting their working lives with a 12,000 debt hanging around their necks means that many recent graduates will be forced to seek any job that pays the bills and the interest on the overdraft, rather than one they have studied three years to pursue."


Graduates are less likely to be unemployed and more likely to earn more over their lifetime than non-graduates

DES spokeswoman

Last month, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development said British graduates got the best return, equivalent to a 17% interest rate, on their investment in higher education out of 32 industrialised nations.

A Department for Education and Skills spokeswoman said: "Going to university remains a very worthwhile investment.

"The fact is that graduates are less likely to be unemployed and more likely to earn more over their lifetime than non-graduates."

Publication of the government's funding plans for universities and students in England has been put back from this month to January amid claims of a three-way wrangle over how much students should pay and when between the Department for Education and Skills, 10 Downing Street and the Treasury.

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 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Jane Warr
Rise in graduate unemployment
See also:

29 Oct 02 | Education
25 Oct 02 | Education
18 Oct 02 | Education
11 Jul 02 | Education
12 Jul 02 | Mike Baker
14 Aug 02 | Business
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