Survey of graduate recruiters

11 February 2009

Dr Wendy Piatt, the Director General of the Russell Group, which represents the 20 major research-intensive universities in the United Kingdom, said:

“We are clearly in an extremely challenging period for the UK economy, and this report demonstrates that next year’s graduates face one of the toughest employment markets we have seen for a number of years.

“Russell Group university careers services are working hard with both traditional and non-traditional recruiters to ensure that as many opportunities as possible are made available to their students. We are well-placed to respond effectively to the current climate of the labour market because our universities have, for may years, been developing a range of schemes to enhance graduate employability, including work-based learning, internships in coveted professions and tailored guidance to help students consolidate the skills which are valued by employers. While times may be tough, Russell Group graduates can be confident that they are in a strong position to succeed in a highly competitive job market.

“Now more than ever, employers want graduates who are entrepreneurial, good at problem-solving, able to handle uncertainty, and who can work both independently and within a team. It is because Russell Group universities can deliver these essential skills that their graduates continue to be held in high esteem by employers in the UK and internationally.

“The increase in vacancies for engineering students in such adverse recruitment conditions underlines the importance of ensuring that more graduates are equipped with STEM skills. This continuing demand for engineering students of a high standard is further testimony to the vital role that Russell Group universities are playing in stimulating the UK's economic recovery.”

Notes to editors

1. The survey results are available from

2. 5 Russell Group institutions featured in the top 10 in the THE QS World University Rankings Employer Review (2007), while 70% of Russell Group institutions featured in the top 50.

3. Research undertaken by the Centre for Economics of Education has identified an average wage premium of nearly 10% (9.4%) for a graduate from a Russell Group university compared to a graduate from a modern university. This statistic comes from an OLS linear estimation technique, which controls for individual characteristics including A-level scores, parental background, the school the individual attended among other factors affecting wages. “Does it pay to attend a prestigious university?” Arnaud Chevalier and Gavan Conlon, March 2003, Centre for the Economics of Education, LSE (table 5 for the 1995 cohort, page 29).
HESA statistics for 2005/06 show that starting salaries for Russell Group graduates were on average £3,000 higher than graduates from other universities.

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