University graduates in job struggle

Alvin Hall casts an American eye on English university fees

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More than half of students who graduated from universities in the East in 2010 have struggled to find a graduate-level job, a BBC Inside Out East investigation has revealed.

According to university surveys which monitor what graduates are doing up to six months after they leave, 6,000 failed to find a graduate-level job.

Many decided to continue studying, but one in three were either unemployed or underemployed - doing a job for which they did not need a degree.

Of the universities across the region - Anglia Ruskin, Bedfordshire, Cambridge, Essex, Hertfordshire, Northampton, Suffolk and the University of East Anglia - 2010 graduates from the University of Hertfordshire were the most successful, with 46% finding graduate jobs.

Next was Bedfordshire with 44%, while graduates from the University of Essex were the least successful, with just 30% getting graduate jobs.

'Frustrating' time

Cambridge was third, with 43%, but that is largely because graduates are most likely to stay in education, with more than a third choosing to continue their studies.

Prof Jules Pretty, the deputy vice-chancellor of Essex University, said universities needed to do more to help students into work.

Three years ago, Ed Iles, from Essex, graduated with a 2:1 in plant science hoping for a career in scientific research.

He is currently working as a classroom assistant, and before that he worked at a local supermarket while he continued to look for graduate-level jobs, applying for 150 positions. Most employers said he lacked experience.

He said: "It is frustrating. It can get quite demoralising especially when you've applied for quite a lot of jobs."

'Thoroughly rewarding'

Looking back Mr Iles does not regret getting his degree and said: "Even though I've struggled finding a job... the overall life skills and everything else you learn is thoroughly rewarding.

"Even though the fees are going up I still think it's an extremely good thing to do."

The investigation follows research commissioned by BBC Inside Out and carried out by ComRes to examine whether students have been put off university because of the increase in tuition fees.

ComRes interviewed 1,009 16- to 18-year-olds currently studying for their A-levels.

You can see more Inside Out on BBC1 in the East at 19:30 BST on Monday and after on iPlayer.

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