Letters: Graduate job market favours private schools

These letters appear in the Wednesday 2nd April edition of the Independent

Share

Students from state schools are more likely to achieve top-grade degrees than those from the independent sector (report, 28 March), and there is a call for leading universities to place more emphasis on applicants’ backgrounds when offering places to study. Great, so all graduates will be on a level playing field in the jobs market, right? Wrong!

Too many employers are unforgiving in the requirements for their graduate jobs. As well as a minimum of a 2:1, they also require 300 or more Ucas points (BBB or higher at A-level). For jobs in IT, to take an example, TARGETjobs lists employers requiring 300 Ucas points or more including: Accenture, CHP Consulting, Microsoft, Morgan Stanley, Ocado, PA Consulting, SunGuard, Tessella, and TPP. 

Many employers have exceptions for those with illness or family circumstances, or for those who are exceptional in sporting or similar achievements, but the barrier still remains for many. Forget how brilliant you are in your chosen subject: what did you do when you were 18? This question might more accurately be framed as “Which school did you attend when you were 18?”, because three times as many private school pupils gain three A grades at A-level as those in state schools. 

Leading employers visit universities’ careers fairs but, while almost all will attend Russell Group universities, the number of employers attending universities in the lower half of the “university league tables”  dwindles.

Some employers are coming round to the idea that recruiting graduates from Russell Group universities and with 300-plus Ucas points does not lead to a very diverse intake, and diversity is essential for success in the global markets. Some employers visit universities outside the Russell Group. Some are more open-minded about your past life: TARGETjobs lists AVEVA and Hewlett Packard as employers who do not have a minimum Ucas points cut-off for IT jobs. In accounting and finance, the professional services firm PwC has recently relaxed its graduate  intake requirements for audit and assurance so that if you obtain a first-class degree, the Ucas points requirements drop to 240 (CCC).

As well as universities levelling the applications playing field, employers also need to play their part. I am teaching some fantastic accounting and finance students. Are there any enlightened employers out there who would like to offer summer internships to the highest achieving students? Many do not have the academic requirements you stipulate and may not have the strongest CVs in terms of relevant work experience or volunteering but they are intelligent, diligent, sometimes brilliant.

Dr Maria Gee, Senior Lecturer in Accounting, University of Winchester

I was concerned by your editorial on tuition fees (1 April), which questioned the fairness of making those who do not go to university “stump up” for those  who do.

Applied more generally, this principle would remove the argument for collective, public provision of any service. Why should the healthy “stump up” for the sick to be treated, those without children for others’ education, or those with cars for public transport?

Taken to its logical conclusion, this argument would destroy the civilised basis of our national life and create the situation found in the USA where those who can pay for services will do so and those who can’t are excluded and marginalised.

Alan Brown, Bromborough, Wirral

Plainly, the right language matters

Your article on Plain English (28 March) reminded me of the start of my Probation Service career in Barnsley in the early 1960s, where to know the difference between a shovel and a spade was a matter of civic pride. 

For a social worker to use the term “sibling” in court invited a broadside below a career water-line. When once asked by a chairman what the term meant, his clerk advised: “I think it’s something to do with chickens, sir.” 

One day a “gentleman of the road” appeared, brought off the street for some minor matter which couldn’t be dealt with on the spot. As if speaking to a simpleton, the chairman slowly and deliberately explained to the defendant, to the accompaniment of a nodding clerk, “Your case is being adjourned sine die. Do you understand?”

“Yes, Your Majesty,” came the reply. 

It seems judgements on plain English can depend on who is dishing it out.

Roy Spilsbury, Penmaenmawr, Conwy

Simplicity and clarity can go too far, even in official communications. I was once told of a major group in dispute with the Revenue. Top accountants were involved, top solicitors engaged. The issue was referred to leading counsel. They drew up a long, closely-argued case. 

The Revenue’s reply arrived by return of post: “Thank you for your letter. I do not agree.”

Robert Davies, London E3

Books for prisoners

The issue of prisoners receiving parcels containing books is not straightforward.

Having taught in prisons for many years, I need no convincing of the value of books in that environment. I came across many prisoners who, for the first time in their lives, were reading and enjoying a variety of books. However, I have some sympathy with prison governors whose perpetual security nightmare is maintaining some degree of control over contraband entering prison. Drugs are easily concealed and screening is neither cheap nor quick (most prisons have to buy in the service of sniffer dogs, for example).

I do wonder how many parcels sent to prisons contained books. Not as many as the literary establishment likes to think I imagine; items of clothing are likely to be higher on the list. Be that as it may, governors know their prisons and it should be left to their discretion to decide what is and isn’t manageable rather than politicians making rulings calculated to appeal to the “give them nothing” brigade.

Sue Turner, Lowdham, Nottinghamshire

April Fools at the wicket

At first glance it seemed obvious that Scottish/UN peacekeeping story was your April Fool spoof (“Peacekeeping plan drawn up by UN in event of a Scottish Yes vote”, 1 April) but then I reached the sports section to read some nonsense about Holland beating England at cricket. How ridiculous! Did you really think we’d fall for that?

Michael O’Hare, Northwood, Middlesex

Loved the item about the UN’s proposed post-independence referendum peacekeeping force; “Avril Prime” was a gem. I’ve already booked the last remaining room from which to watch the manoeuvres. BMW’s ad was a surprise, though.

John Crocker, Cheltenham

Hey, you had me going there!  That lead story on the front page (1 April) about the Royal Mail flotation. Apparently Vince Cable’s City chums agreed to buy RM shares and promised to hold on to them. But then it’s said they went and sold them straight away at a vast profit.

I mean, honestly, how believable is that? Wasn’t born yesterday y’know!

Ed Sharkey, Barton-under-Needwood, Staffordshire

Texting in the street

Apple’s pedestrian-avoidance plan for the terminally phone-struck (“Text-and-walk plan for those trying to do two things at once”, 31 March) is  one more blow in the drive to render normal human behaviour redundant.

The massive surge in numbers of those who “walk and talk” has become one of the most annoying features of the urban landscape. It’s bad enough coping with the ear-plug barkers shouting into thin air, but ten times worse with those who simply stare at their phones while veering randomly into fellow pedestrians.

The moment you step out of that door it is essential to have your mobile amulet to hand, ready to combat the hideous dangers of actually observing the world around you. Now, combine that, as some already do, with a bicycle ...

Christopher Dawes, London W11

Financial community rumbled again

What arrant nonsense is this clamour for the head of Martin Wheatley, Chief Executive of the Financial Conduct Authority. The plunge in insurance company share prices was due to the financial community fearing that they had been rumbled, again, and with just cause. The pity is that the inquiry is not going to be as wide-ranging as at first suggested.

Peter English, Rhewl, Denbighshire

Is this contract really a job?

I am reassured that the Chancellor has signed up to a full employment pledge, or perhaps aspiration. However I am unclear if a zero-hours contract is a job, as it appears to involve a firm commitment neither to work nor to wages, or am I just an economic illiterate?

Lee Dalton BSc Econ, Weymouth, Dorset

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Parts Advisor

£16500 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the leading Mercedes-Ben...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer

£27500 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Telemarketers / Sales - Home Based - OTE £23,500

£19500 - £23500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Experienced B2B Telemarketer wa...

Recruitment Genius: Showroom Assistant

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This global company are looking for two Showro...

Day In a Page

Read Next
A teenage girl uses her smartphone in bed.  

Remove smartphones from the hands of under-18s and maybe they will grow up to be less dumb

Janet Street-Porter
Rohingya migrants in a boat adrift in the Andaman Sea last week  

Burma will regret shutting its eyes to the fate of the Rohingya boat people

Peter Popham
Fifa corruption: The 161-page dossier that exposes the organisation's dark heart

The 161-page dossier that exposes Fifa's dark heart

How did a group of corrupt officials turn football’s governing body into what was, in essence, a criminal enterprise? Chris Green and David Connett reveal all
Mediterranean migrant crisis: 'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves,' says Tripoli PM

Exclusive interview with Tripoli PM Khalifa al-Ghweil

'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves'
Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles: How the author foretold the Californian water crisis

Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles

How the author foretold the Californian water crisis
Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison as authorities crackdown on dissent in the arts

Art attack

Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison
Marc Jacobs is putting Cher in the limelight as the face of his latest campaign

Cher is the new face of Marc Jacobs

Alexander Fury explains why designers are turning to august stars to front their lines
Parents of six-year-old who beat leukaemia plan to climb Ben Nevis for cancer charity

'I'm climbing Ben Nevis for my daughter'

Karen Attwood's young daughter Yasmin beat cancer. Now her family is about to take on a new challenge - scaling Ben Nevis to help other children
10 best wedding gift ideas

It's that time of year again... 10 best wedding gift ideas

Forget that fancy toaster, we've gone off-list to find memorable gifts that will last a lifetime
Paul Scholes column: With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards

Paul Scholes column

With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards
Heysel disaster 30th anniversary: Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget fateful day in Belgium

Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget Heysel

Thirty years ago, 39 fans waiting to watch a European Cup final died as a result of a fatal cocktail of circumstances. Ian Herbert looks at how a club dealt with this tragedy
Amir Khan vs Chris Algieri: Khan’s audition for Floyd Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation, says Frank Warren

Khan’s audition for Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation

The Bolton fighter could be damned if he dazzles and damned if he doesn’t against Algieri, the man last seen being decked six times by Pacquiao, says Frank Warren
Blundering Tony Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

Blundering Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

For Arabs – and for Britons who lost their loved ones in his shambolic war in Iraq – his appointment was an insult, says Robert Fisk
Fifa corruption arrests: All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue

Fifa corruption arrests

All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue, says Ian Herbert
Isis in Syria: The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of President Assad and militant fighters

The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of Assad and Isis

In Syrian Kurdish cantons along the Turkish border, the progressive aims of the 2011 uprising are being enacted despite the war. Patrick Cockburn returns to Amuda
How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields: Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape the US

How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields

Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape to the US
Stephen Mangan interview: From posh buffoon to pregnant dad, the actor has quite a range

How Stephen Mangan got his range

Posh buffoon, hapless writer, pregnant dad - Mangan is certainly a versatile actor