More than half of recent graduates find they are still relying on their parents for financial support after three years, a survey suggests.
Engineering had the best "feel good" factors
A "graduate satisfaction" poll of 1,220 people who completed their studies in 2002 found 40% had no regular savings.
Those who had gone into engineering were most satisfied, surveyors were earning the most - averaging £24,000 - and accountants had most leisure time.
And those in Cambridge, whether or not they had studied there, were happiest.
The research was conducted by The Survey Shop and commissioned by the Royal Bank of Scotland.
Its report said dissatisfaction with finances was a common theme across locations and professions.
TOP 10 PROFESSIONS
1 Engineer 69%
2 Trainee vet 67%
3 Warehouse manager 63%
4 Surveyor 60%
5 Banking analyst 59%
6 Tourism manager 58%
7 Teacher 57%
8 Administrator 56%
9 Social worker 55%
10 Nurse 54%
Ratings show how graduates assess their own happiness
Typically those working in finance were the best savers, putting away about £153 each month.
But almost half (49%) were not paying into a pension fund.
More than a third (39%) were unhappy with their level of disposable income.
The bank's head of graduate banking, Donna Ewing, said: "The research reveals that over half of graduates (58%) were surprised by how much they still relied on their parents financially after graduation."
The researchers looked at a range of factors affecting how people felt about what they were doing.
The most important as regards satisfaction at work were work/life balance, then training and scope for promotion.
TOP 10 LOCATIONS
1 Cambridge 73%
2 Reading 72%
3 Wrexham 71%
4 Cardiff and Preston 69%
5 Southampton 67%
6 Sheffield 66%
7 Leicester 65%
8 Aberdeen 64%
9 Glasgow 62%
10 Liverpool 61%
Engineers had an overall score of 69%. Those working in the hospitality industry were least satisfied, scoring 30%. Teachers were on 57%.
Outside work the key things were the quality of personal relationships, accommodation and having time for friends and family.
With an overall satisfaction score of 73%, graduates living in Cambridge topped the list.
Those in Oxford were at the opposite end of the scale on 34%.
Three quarters of the graduates in Wrexham had mortgages, while the same proportion in London were not yet property owners.
Here is a cross-section of the messages we have received on this subject:
I've been a graduate for two years now and I still haven't got a graduate job, not because I'm stupid, but there are too many graduates now. There are so many of us that a degree today means nothing.
Eva Leung, Sheffield
After graduating in chemical engineering in 1990 I cannot but agree with the survey. As we left my fellow "ChemEngers" were not far from the best paid, only 3 students didn't have a job by graduation (out of 60-odd) and went into an interesting career - oil business, myself.
The thing that confuses me is that engineering is in decline but your survey and my testimony prove that, far from being a bunch of anoraks, engineers can enjoy interesting and rewarding lives. Where is that on the posters?
Andy McCaughtrie, Peterborough, UK
Over the last few years more and more graduates are leaving university and walking into non-graduate jobs or 'graduate' jobs with massive 12k-14k starting salaries. This is partly due to too many people going to uni these days, and the fact that the modern job market generates far fewer middle-of-the-road jobs and more McJobs.
Most of my graduate peers are hardly better off financially for having attend university and many are clearly far worse of due to low pay combined with debt. Yes, the only people that seem to be managing are those taking regular sums from Mam and Dad. We're becoming a nation of debt-ridden strugglers.
David, London, UK
It is good to see engineering getting the recognition as a worthwhile satisfying profession.
Philip Oakley, Glasgow, Scotland
As the single parent of a second year undergraduate I am reviewing my contribution to his finances as he appears to have a better standard of living than I do, with many trips away and parties. I don't mean to be a killjoy, but I'm having to do without in the meantime.
Come the day when he has to find a job that will fund this kind of lifestyle I think he'll be struggling. Therefore I regard my "review" as a kindness and hopefully he won't be so dissatisfied with his lot when he graduates.
I graduated three years ago, having worked through university and taking minimum paid work and living on my own until I eventually got a 'real' graduate job as an events coordinator. While my parents did pay my rent during university (for which I am eternally grateful), I received no other support from my mum and dad for the whole of my degree or while I was in low paid employment. I don't really understand how or why people feel the need to be kept by their parents. Living independently and unsupported did me a world of good.
I left uni with no overdraft, having had an immensely enjoyable time, a decent degree and good work ethic!! I think that too much parental support can be quite unhelpful! I would heartily recommend that students and new graduates learn how to budget and stand on their own two feet!!
Jane Roberts, London
I guess I'm the opposite to this poll! I supported myself through uni, worked two summers to afford a computer and now help financially support my family since my graduation in 2003.
Some of my uni friends got parental support through college, money to go travelling and a deposit for a London flat - lucky buggers! I do manage to save, have a pension and an ISA, good practice I picked up from working in finance. But I can't even afford driving lessons, let alone a car, let alone a flat or house!!
Ren, Suffolk, England
I have a private school education (2A*, 7As, 2Bs at GCSE) and graduated with a 2:1. What it got me is £20,000 debt and a graduate placement that doesn't even pay minimum wage. As my parents have money I got no support through university or after and am embarrassed at the fact that my parents have invested tens of thousands of pounds in my education and I can't foresee any independence for at least two years (by which time I will be 25).
Everyone keeps telling me that the hard work I put in will eventually pay off but I'm sick of waiting for my efforts to be rewarded. I should have left school at 16 and got an apprenticeship as a plumber.
This is a ticking time bomb. The government has devalued degree level education by pushing unsuitable applicants towards a university education. There is now a skills shortage in this country fuelled by high expectations of graduates who will not take on lesser paid work as they 'expect' a huge salary for taking a degree. Bring back apprenticeships and place more value on work based learning.
Universities were intended for the top percentage of the population those with the 'brains' to go onto run the country and industry. Now everyone wants a degree which devalues the qualification and there are too few jobs there for graduates who are now leaving uni with massive debts.
They then have to stay at home and be subsidised by parents who should be building up their own pension pots not supporting kids who should have flown the nest long ago.
Amanda, Beverley East Yorks
Even well paid people working in the finance sector like myself, struggle to find the money to save. However I have to say that as a generation twenty somethings are much more influenced by a society that excels at the message of buy now pay later. This fuels spending habits that often exceed our incomes. Our parents generation often waited until later in their lives for some of the 'luxuries' that we now demand in our early twenties, most of which if we are honest with ourselves we can't really afford.
J Lane, London
I graduated almost three years ago and have since spent working life in dead-end jobs. A degree in Business hasn't helped me at all and I could have got the same jobs with only GCSEs to my name.
In my experience even when someone has a degree companies want that individual to 'work their way up the ladder'. I did the degree to get a head start but its been of no advantage whatsoever. Whilst I have never had massive financial support from my parents I still live at home unable to find the money to move out.
Anon, Cheadle Hulme, UK
Engineering is the top profession?!?! Today we got our annual rises, an average pay rise of 2%. In an office full of engineers I don't see many smiles!
What is the problem here? Yes: everyone should have the opportunity of a university education - but there is no right to a highly-paid job at the end of it. Too many people attend university now for this to be the case. Go to college, learn lots, enjoy yourself, then start at the bottom like everyone else. The skills you acquire at university ought to help you rise much more rapidly once you've got a foot on the ladder.
Success (in terms of jobs) is and always has been about attitude, rather than education. Take Jamie Oliver for instance, who never went to university but has made a thriving career for himself. Or the multi-millionaires you hear about who dropped out of school but made great business entrepeneurs. If anything we have become too dependent on qualifications, and less dependent on our own ability to learn something or achieve something.
The purpose of university isn't to get us a job. It is to teach us how to think, to question, to evaluate. Rather than say it is for an elite few, it should be something available for everyone who aspires to do it, because the end result is a whole society and not just an individual, which aims higher, thinks broader and achieves more.
People who do well in life, career-wise, do so because they make it happen. They don't look for excuses or people to blame. They decide what they want and they go for it.
Z Garratt, Kent, UK