Employers are paying undergraduates an average salary of £17,000 for internships and sandwich placements in 2015, up from £16,940 in 2014.
The website RateMyPlacement looked at responses from 5000 students and found that employers in many parts of the country are paying interns and workies more than ever to attract top candidates.
Banks, technology companies and even film studios are among the companies paying salaries to interns. Oliver Sidwell, co-founder and director of RateMyPlacement, said the placements act as a 'long interview process' as candidates are whittled down over the course of several years.
He told the Independent that students are increasingly picking sandwich degrees, which include a year of work, or working on their gap year to get ahead of the pack on graduation day.
"University isn’t just for the elite anymore, it’s just a qualification. What makes students stand out these days is there experience and practical learning alongside their studies," Sidwell said.
Employers are also cutting the amount they spend on graduate recruitment by building a relationship with students in their first year of university. Sidwell said law firms and technology companies have insight programs to bring in freshers, or first years, for a day. Recruiters use the insight days to identify the best students to invite back for internships in their second summer.
Most of the undergraduate placements available are in Central London, where the average internship salary has decreased in the last 12 months. The average salary in nearby regions, such as the South West and Greater London, has significantly increased as employers try to attract students away from the capital.
RateMyPlacement has ranked the top 100 undergraduate employers based on scores from its userbase. Financial companies, which have a long tradition of offering paid internships, dominate the top ten. But Warner Brothers was the highest climber, rising 39 places to come third, and Microsoft came in at six.
"We are going through a huge transformation at Microsoft and to have undergraduates coming to us with their fresh ideas and modern perspectives is so important to us," said Lucy Saunders, University Recruitment Lead at Microsoft UK.
The top ten graduate employers in order are:
1: Bank of America Merrill Lynch
2: Pinsent Masons
3: Warner Bros
4: Morgan Stanley
5: Goldman Sachs
7: J.P Morgan
8: Credit Suisse