Go Higher: London & The South East - Go South for a head start into work

The South-east is costly, but there are jobs aplenty, especially in London. By Lucy Hodges
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Indy Lifestyle Online
One reason for studying in London and the South-east is that you have a head start getting a job. Finance houses and high-tech firms are concentrated here, and companies based on new technologies are spinning out of institutions such as Oxford, Cambridge and Imperial College, London. Media outlets proliferate all the time.

Some universities are more vocational than others. And students taking certain degree courses have more chance than others of getting good, permanent work.

At Anglia Polytechnic University, say, computing and information systems students do well with jobs. So do graduates of arts administration and medical imaging degrees - 100 per cent go straight into work.

Greenwich University, south London, produces architects, building surveyors and teachers as well as garden designers and landscape architects. Quite a few of these try to set up in business on their own. Meanwhile IT students walk into jobs in computing, and graduates of the business school find work in marketing, finance and human resource management.

Further south, Kingston University graduates find work in a range of blue- chip as well as small- and medium-sized firms. First jobs in blue- chip companies pay about pounds 16,000 a year - that's par for the course, says Jan Stow, who works in Kingston's careers service. First jobs in small- and medium-sized firms may carry rather lower salaries - pounds 12,000-pounds 14,000 a year.

Most graduates tend to stay around and find work in the South-east. But increasingly they first study for a further degree to help them find better jobs. Britain is going the way of America. Because of the expansion in higher education, graduates require further training to get that elusive extra edge.

That is why employment rates submitted by unis and colleges to the Higher Education Statistics Agency are not particularly helpful in showing which are good at preparing students for jobs. Figures for students in permanent jobs six months after graduation include such temporary work as flipping burgers - and exclude those going back into education.

Oxford and Cambridge, which are generally considered to give students a head start when it comes to employment, do not have particularly stellar percentages going straight into work because they take the kind of students who want to add an extra degree to their name. Cambridge, for example, had 57 per cent of graduates in 1998 in permanent employment six months after graduating; while 27 per cent went into further study. A further 10 per cent were taking time out, or were overseas students going home, and 6 per cent were working abroad.

Oxford has even fewer straight into work - 52.3 per cent with 40.6 in further study: only 1.9 were still seeking work six months later - the lowest for a decade. And the rest were overseas students going home and others not unavailable for work for health or other reasons. Oxford's careers service says students increasingly choose to wait until they have a degree before job-hunting - 8 per cent say that six months after graduation they're in interim jobs.

University of East Anglia found 80 per cent of its 1995 graduates were working full-time; 63 had done more training. Many were still in Norfolk, with most in graduate-level work.

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