Class of 2015 graduates desperately seek jobs to recoup £30,000 loans

A survey of over 18,000 final-year students revealed more than one in four will walk straight into a job after graduation

The Class of 2015 – the first to graduate from university having paid tuition fees of £9,000 a year – are the most job hungry and ambitious ever, according to published research.

A survey of more than 18,000 final-year students revealed more than one in four (26 per cent) will walk straight into a job after graduation – the highest level for 14 years.

The survey, by graduate recruitment experts High Fliers Research, also revealed that nearly half (an astonishing 48 per cent – the highest figure ever recorded) had begun searching for a job during their first year at university.

A glance at the levels of debts by this year’s graduates gives a clue as to why – on average they owe £30,000 on graduating, 50 per cent higher than 2014’s graduates. One in 50 estimate they will leave university owing more than £50,000. Those who studied at Imperial College London had the largest level of debt at £39,300 on average, followed by University College London (£36,500) and the London School of Economics (£36,400) – all possibly as a result of studying in the capital. Those with the least debt were graduates of Strathclyde (£13,000) and Glasgow (£15,700).

The research also shows that a record number of students had done work placements or internships during their course. There was also a dramatic drop in the numbers leaving with “no definite plans” – only 9 per cent, the lowest proportion since 1998.

“Our survey shows that new graduates leaving the UK’s top universities this summer ... are the most career-orientated, motivated and ambitious of their generation,” said Martin Birchall, the managing director of High Fliers Research.

Researchers estimate final-year students made around 474,000 job applications between them – four-fifths more than during the equivalent period six years ago. Their reward was to gain higher starting salaries – earning on average £23,700 a year, £700 more than last year and the biggest rise in starting salaries for seven years. One in six expected to be earning £100,000 a year by the age of 30.

Figures show consultancy work was the most popular destination for graduates followed by marketing, the media and charity work. Among careers suffering a drop in popularity were actuarial work – down 18.5 per cent, property or surveying 17.4 per cent and purchasing 10.2 per cent. Teaching was also down by 7 per cent.

“London was the top destination for students at 26 of the 30 universities in the survey but for finalists at the other four – Glasgow, Strathclyde, Edinburgh and Queen’s University, Belfast – the preferred destination was the region in which they had studied.”

The report points out that in years gone by “the entire process of hunting for a job was directed almost exclusively at final-year students, most of who didn’t begin researching their career options or potential future employers until well into the autumn term”.

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