Firms accused of ‘university snobbery’ in graduate recruitment

Graduates from non-Russell Group universities such as St. Andrews are missing out on roles, says Milkround
David Cheskin/PA Archive/PA Images

One fifth (22%) of prestigious Russell Group university graduates have yet to secure a full-time job, compared to 30% of non-Russell group graduates.

A survey of graduates by the Milkround job board has revealed that 83% believe that recruiters favour applications from Russell Group alumni.

As the latest cohort of students begin Freshers’ Week, the research also showed that 41% of graduates are calling for ‘blind’ recruitment to eradicate prejudice.

The Russell Group is a group of 24 institutions that congregate at the top of the university league tables, with a reputation for academic excellence and a strong research remit. However, some of the best academic universities are not included, such as Aberdeen, St Andrews, Lancaster, Bath and Loughborough.

Georgina Brazier, graduate jobs expert at Milkround, said: “Whilst there’s no doubt that many students dream of attending reputationally prestigious universities such as Oxford or Cambridge, most graduates are left with the same level of debt or student loans (and same tuition fees) regardless of what university they attended.

“The investment students make to attend university and gain their degree is substantial and whilst academic success should be applauded, some graduates feel the return on investment when entering the workplace should be fairer. There’s no doubt that Russell Group graduates make for excellent employees but it’s integral that companies do not rule out the chance to recruit fantastic grads from other universities.”

Research published last year from the Department for Education identified that students attending Russell Group universities are more likely to earn a higher salary than those that don’t.

One graduate told Milkround: “I feel like employers only look at the kind of university you attend sometimes, it doesn’t matter about the degree level you are graduating with, and that worries me about my future.”

Milkround’s 2019 Candidate Compass report, which investigated the views of 7,000 students and graduates, also looked into the pressure students feel when studying. Two in three (66%) grads said they have great concern when competing for a job role against those who have completed more work experience and been exposed to more networking opportunities, a 10% increase from 2018. Meanwhile, almost half (48%) are worried about having less experience than other candidates.

Two in five (41%) graduates suggest that employers should practice blind recruitment, the practice of ‘hiding’ elements such as name, gender, religion and anything that denotes socioeconomic background.

Brazier added: “Blind recruitment is necessary if businesses want to attract talent from the widest talent pool possible, with an excitingly diverse set of skills and intellects, rather than blocking perfectly good candidates because of their university or socio-economic background. It’s something that can be implemented quickly and simply for most companies

“Moreover, many companies have made huge strides in increasing diversity in their recruitment and change is on the horizon. The best way to help graduates believe that firms can offer them a future whatever their background, is to break down communication with students and have face-to-face conversations by visiting universities around the country. This dialogue is key to easing the anxiety graduates may encounter before applying for jobs, plus encourage students from diverse backgrounds to apply to firms they may have previously viewed as having a challenging entry point.”

The Russell Group comprises 24 leading universities: Birmingham, Bristol, Cambridge, Cardiff, Durham, Edinburgh, Exeter, Glasgow, Imperial College London, King’s College London, Leeds, LSE, Manchester, Newcastle, Nottingham, Oxford, Queen Mary University of London, Queen’s University Belfast, Sheffield, Southampton, University College London, Warwick and York.

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One Response to Firms accused of ‘university snobbery’ in graduate recruitment

  1. Avatar
    Larry Bradley 18 Sep 2019 at 5:16 pm #

    You do realize that the variance is statistically meaningless?

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