Sixth of students regret going to university

One in six students would have reconsidered going to university if they had known how difficult it would be to secure a job once they graduated, a study has found.

The survey of 16,000 students in the final year of their degree course also found that just 36 per cent were likely to find a graduate job once their course was completed.

Sandy Chidley, 22, who is reading French and Hispanic at King's College London, is a case in point. "One of my friends left school and entered the City straight away and is faring well thus far," he said yesterday. "He seems to be no less disadvantaged by not having a degree – leaving us graduates with three years of further education and a mountain of debt."

He said he had been influenced by the thought that a degree guaranteed a job and a decent starting salary. "This seems not to be the case," he said.

Mark Wiseman, 22, who is studying maths at Queens' College, Cambridge, has tried in vain to seek a job as an actuary when he leaves the leafy spires of his university this summer.

He has applied for six or seven jobs and said that most of his friends were in a similar situation. However, he is adamant that his university experience has not been a waste of time and has taken the option of spending a fourth year at Cambridge to do a master's degree.

The survey, by the graduate recruitment company High Fliers Research, found that just over a third of those finishing university this summer expect to find a graduate job. The competition is especially fierce because they are up against many graduates from last year who have still not found graduate-related employment.

The survey's findings provide food for thought for the inquiry into student finance set up by the last government under the chairmanship of the former BP chief executive Lord Browne.

His committee has heard pleas from the Russell Group, which represents 20 leading higher education research institutions including Oxford and Cambridge, for the current £3,225-a-year cap on top-up fees to be lifted altogether, giving universities the right to charge whatever they want.

Other vice-chancellors have called for the inquiry to recommend a substantial increase in the cap when it reports next year. Part of the rationale behind charging students more is that those who benefit from inflated salaries after going through higher education should pay more towards its cost.

Martin Birchall, the managing director of High Fliers Research, says that argument might have been sustained 10 or 15 years ago but it is no longer relevant. "A small percentage can still earn high salaries by going to big firms like JP Morgan, Rolls-Royce et cetera – but unfortunately it's only the top 10 to 15 per cent who can look forward to that," he said.

Currently, there are 300,000 graduates leaving university every year – twice as many as in the early 1990s – and even in a good year there are only 150,000 graduate jobs, he said.

David Willetts, the universities Secretary, added: "The jobs market continues to be very tough for young people, who were among the biggest losers during the recession."

Case study: 'Your degree doesn't guarantee a job'

Sandy Chidley, 21

Mr Chidley is one of many students questioning whether their decision to go to university was the correct one.

The undergraduate, who is taking a French and Hispanic studies degree at King's College London, has seen friends who went straight out to work after leaving school successfully land jobs before the recession began to bite – giving them a distinct advantage over those who chose to spend three or four years studying at university instead.

"One of my friends left school and entered the City straight away and is faring well so far," he said. "He doesn't seem to be been disadvantaged by not having a degree, leaving us graduates with three years of further education and a mountain of debt."

Mr Chidley was persuaded going to university would lead to the guarantee of a job and a decent starting salary. "However, that seems not to be the case," he said.

Instead, he says, he is competing for jobs not only against his fellow graduates this summer "but also those from the year before and the year before that".

"I won't leave university now I have started," he added, "but those who are thinking of going to university should not bank on their degree guaranteeing them a job after they graduate."

He said that – instead of getting a degree – the way to succeed seemed to be "to pad your CV out with as many internships as possible, while all the time you cross your fingers and hope for something to crop up".

He believes that getting a degree no longer seemed to separate "the bright, the talented and hard-working" students from the rest of the crop, as it might once have done.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Life and Style
Steve Shaw shows Kate how to get wet behind the ears and how to align her neck
healthSteven Shaw - the 'Buddha of Breaststroke' - applies Alexander Technique to the watery sport
Arts and Entertainment
The sight of a bucking bronco in the shape of a pink penis was too much for Hollywood actor and gay rights supporter Martin Sheen, prompting him to boycott a scene in the TV series Grace and Frankie
tv
Sport
footballShirt then goes on sale on Gumtree
Voices
Terry Sue-Patt as Benny in the BBC children’s soap ‘Grange Hill’
voicesGrace Dent on Grange Hill and Terry Sue-Patt
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Arts and Entertainment
Performers drink tea at the Glastonbury festival in 2010
music
Arts and Entertainment
Twin Peaks stars Joan Chen, Michael Ontkean, Kyle Maclachlan and Piper Laurie
tvName confirmed for third series
Sport
Cameron Jerome
footballCanaries beat Boro to gain promotion to the Premier League
Arts and Entertainment
art
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Education

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

Reach Volunteering: Would you like to volunteer your expertise as Chair of Governors for Livability?

Voluntary and unpaid, reasonable expenses are reimbursable: Reach Volunteering...

Ashdown Group: Payroll Administrator - Buckinghamshire - £25,000

£20000 - £25000 per annum + substantial benefits: Ashdown Group: Finance Admin...

Ashdown Group: Linux Systems Administrator - Windows, Linux - Central London

£40000 - £50000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Linux Systems Administrat...

Day In a Page

Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine