Graduates fly high on education

Most employed university leavers are in graduate-level jobs four years after graduation, a research study into the early careers of graduates revealed today.

The Class of ’99 –- a major new study led jointly by Professor Peter Elias at the University of Warwick’s Institute of Employment Research and Professor Kate Purcell at the Employment Studies Research Unit at Bristol Business School – details the fortunes of 8,600 graduates from the full range of UK undergraduate courses.


The study follows graduates from course completion to four years after leaving university. Job outcomes, earnings, debt, training and further learning have been investigated, as well as general satisfaction with the Higher Education experience.


The study found that the market for graduates remains strong, with 85% of employed graduates in graduate-level jobs four years after leaving university. It also explored issues such as the impact of debt on the career choices made by graduates and whether studying for a degree still represented a good investment.


Key findings four years after graduation were:



  • nearly 85% of employed leavers were in graduate-level jobs
  • two-thirds of graduates were in jobs relating to their long-term career plans
  • only 2-3% of graduates were unemployed
  • employers were continuing to value graduates’ skills and continue to pay well for them with graduates earning on average more than £23,800, four years after completing their courses.
  • the overwhelming majority of graduates were satisfied with their decision to go into higher education.

Higher education minister Bill Rammell said: “This research provides compelling evidence that graduates are benefiting from the skills, knowledge and experiences that they have obtained through Higher Education. What is more, graduates continue to earn a substantial return from their degrees.”

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