Big fall in graduate jobs: Degrees are no longer a guarantee of employment, and for many former students the simplest thing to do is kill time by hanging around their old colleges

GRADUATE unemployment has risen for the fourth year in succession at Britain's largest university, and is creeping nearer a high of 12.5 per cent reached in the early Eighties.

Eleven per cent of last summer's University of London graduates are still unemployed. The figure for London, which represents one-fifth of the old university sector (excluding the former polytechnics) usually deviates from the national rate by less than 1 per cent. The national figure will be released in May.

Last February, 9.5 per cent of London students were without jobs six months after graduation. The 1989 figure was 5.1 per cent.

Given the recession, Dr Neil Harris, deputy director of London University's careers advisory service, considers 11 per cent 'remarkably low', but adds that the figure would be much higher if graduates were holding out for the sort of posts taken for granted by their predecessors.

He believes today's graduates are 'in a sea-change situation', similar to that which occurred in the Sixties, when the advent of the polytechnics made them more numerous and less special. The expansion of higher education in the middle of recession means that once-sheltered graduates are finding it increasingly tough to get jobs.

Dr Harris said: 'The figures for the early 1980s are not comparable with this year's figure. When today's students graduate they have much bigger overdrafts and are willing to do all sorts of work to clear them.

'The notion of the graduate job is changing again. There will be a 30 per cent increase in the numbers in higher education between 1989 and 1994. There were 10,000 more graduates this year than last and there are considerably fewer graduate jobs. Something has to give.'

Carolyn Morris, of Sussex University's careers advisory service, says that despondency is spreading to those due to graduate this summer. 'There are two camps of students. The first is very organised and is furiously filling in applications and using the careers service. But an awful lot seem to be giving up before they start. The behaviour of the latter group is more marked than in recent years.'

(Photograph omitted)

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