The survey of 257 major companies and 10 subjects by the Performance Indicator project, an independent statistical survey, shows that Oxford and Cambridge, in that order, lead the field in law. They are followed by Durham, Bristol and Edinburgh.
In accountancy, finance and banking, however, companies rate students from the LSE highest, followed by Edinburgh, Manchester, Warwick and Kent.
The 10 subjects covered are engineering and technology, construction and civil engineering, languages, law, electrical engineering, sciences, computing, business, accountancy, finance and banking and economic and social sciences.
In sciences, Cambridge came top and Oxford fifth. Overall, Cambridge came top followed by the University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology. The two were also first and second in last year's survey. Dr Cliff Pettifor, the project's director, said the vocational nature of the subjects surveyed might explain why Oxford had done less well.
The most improved university in employers' ratings was York which rose in almost every subject area. Newcastle and St Andrews are also going up.
The former polytechnics do not feature in the top 10 for any of the subjects but several are improving their ratings. De Montfort was fifth among the improvers and Oxford Brookes, Manchester Metropolitan and the University of Central Englandwere also among those who did better than last year.
Another survey of employers' attitudes to universities, which aims to help students using the clearing system to secure a university places, shows only one new university, Glasgow Caledonian, in the top 25.
The survey of 105 leading companies was conducted by Mander Portman and Woodward tutorial colleges to offer students a guide to the likely status of degrees. It shows that employers have a "premier league" of traditional universities.
The table is headed by Oxford, followed by Cambridge, Manchester, Nottingham, Leeds, Birmingham and Edinburgh, (joint sixth) and Loughborough. Bristol, Durham, Umist and Warwick are joint eighth. Almost half the companies said they had definite preferences about recruiting graduates. The tutorial colleges say it is important for students to know how universities are regarded when they are deciding whether to re-take A-levels.
Employers appear to be focusing their recruitment efforts on a limited number of universities. However, new universities are competing by offering courses which help prepare students for particular jobs.
n The Performance Indicator Project; Harlaxton College, Grantham, Lincs. NG32 1AG. pounds 24. Written inquiries only.
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