Graduate starting salaries are set to rise higher than predicted, according to the latest survey from the Association of Graduate Recruiters (AGR).
The summer edition of the AGR's bi-annual survey of its members found that they expected an increase in the average starting salary to £26,500. This is a 6% increase on the estimates obtained in the AGR's winter survey published in January, which pointed to estimates of a 4% increase, to £26,000.
The salary estimates offered by the AGR's members in 2012 followed three consecutive years of salary stagnation for graduates.
The increase in estimated salaries is not the only positive finding for graduates. The survey also highlighted that there are fewer applications per graduate vacancy this year - 73; down from 83 applications per vacancy last year.
In addition, the AGR said that its survey findings suggested a stabilisation of the graduate job market, with vacancies predicted to fall by 0.6%, compared to 1.2% predicted last year.
Carl Gilleard, AGR chief executive, said: "It is reassuring to see that employers are investing in graduate talent. The significant rise in starting salaries to £26,500 will be very good news indeed to students, who are bracing themselves to take on higher levels of debt as tuition fees rise to £9,000 from September this year."
Gilleard continued: "While graduate recruitment and development programmes are part of employers' long-term strategy, the graduate job market is inextricably linked to business confidence. With the continuing uncertainty in the eurozone, it is encouraging to see that employers are still talent-planning for the future and that the number of graduate vacancies is remaining constant."
Respondents to the survey also reported that the quality of applications had increased, while the AGR suggested that graduates are taking their time to be more selective and thorough in their applications.
A 2:1 degree classification remains the most common selection criteria used by graduate recruiters, with 76% using it as minimum entry standard for the graduates they recruit. This is a slight increase from 73% last year.
The AGR survey is based on responses from 215 of its UK members in the UK across over 20 sectors, which will provide an estimated 21,194 graduate vacancies in 2012.