Average pay for graduates passes £20,000 mark

The average salary students expect to earn when they graduate has passed £20,000 for the first time, according to research.

The UK Graduate Careers survey reveals that final-year job hunters now expect to earn an average of £20,300, a rise of 2.5% on last year.

The poll of more than 16,000 students – the largest of its kind ever conducted – showed that the Class of 2006 are most interested in going into the media and teaching.

Media attracted 12.4% of graduates and teaching 11.9%, however, both these figures were down slightly on 2005.

The number of students hoping to go into HR also fell. Human resources came 12th out of 23 sectors covered by the report, with only 6.2% of graduates opting for a career in people management. This figure was down from 6.5% in 2005.

The Civil Service took a blow with the proportion of students looking to work for the government falling from 9.9% last year to 8.5% in 2006.

Martin Birchall, managing director of graduate recruitment agency High Fliers, which carried out the research, said the survey showed how strongly students feel about increased tuition fees.

“It’s not hard to see why the Class of 2006 is sceptical,” he said. “Over the past decade the student population has grown by more than two-thirds, average graduation debts have trebled and yet the number of graduate job vacancies available to university leavers has increased by barely 10%.”

London remains the most popular destination for graduates to go after finishing university and is the first choice for students at 24 out of the 31 universities included in the research.

Students voiced concerns about the levels of debt they face, which stands on average at £10,400, the same as in 2005.

More than a third of final year students said they wouldn’t have gone to university at all if they had been faced with the £3,000 tuition fees that are set to be introduced in England this autumn.

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