University Alliance response to graduate employment coverage

In response to the coverage of the ONS report on graduate employment, Libby Hackett, Director of University Alliance, said:

“Too often we hear it said that ‘there are too many graduates’ in the UK or
that young people should question whether it is worth going to university.
It is important to look at the evidence behind this claim as getting this
right or wrong has big implications for the direction government policy
should take as well as for individuals and the wider society. The message
coming out from the ONS report actually disputes these claims. The level of
graduate unemployment, at 18%, is a much lower figure than the last
recession when it hit 27% in 1993.This demonstrates how much the economy has
changed since the last recession, and will continue to change if we enable
it to. The ONS data also demonstrates the greater earning potential for a
graduate, earning significantly more than non-graduates on average, and the
employment premium, with graduates still much more likely to be employed.


“Contrary to popular belief, the major economic indicators suggest that
there is a shortage of graduates in the UK not too many. The UK economy is
not presenting any of the labour market signals that would suggest there are
too many graduates in the economy. Graduate vacancies continue to grow. Jobs
in ‘graduate dense’ occupations are an increasing proportion of the total
workforce. Graduate employment rates have been maintained despite the rapid
expansion in the number of graduates. Added to all this there is still a
significant graduate premium.


“Universities need to continue to make every effort, in partnership with
business and the professions, to secure employment for recent graduates
during the recession but the overall picture remains clear and demand for
going to university is high. Applying market logic would see the total
number of university places increased. Instead they have been quietly cut by
around 24,000 places compared with last year. Budgets may be limited but we
should be stating the case for increasing the capacity for higher education
places in future years if we are to grow our economy and ensure a bright
future for more young people.”

Further reading