A study conducted on 3,000 students at universities across the country has revealed that they had expectations of earning 10% more than the average graduate wage, estimated at £16,450.

The most unrealistic expectations came from first-year students and linguists in particular. In some cases starting wages were overestimated by over 3,000. Finalists had more pessimist views on salaries and in many cases estimates fell below the average.

John Jerrim, a PhD student at the University of Southampton carried out the study and presented his results to the Royal Economic Society’s annual conference.

His findings have left him eager to encourage people to decide on a university and a course only after they have spent enough time investigating the job market.

He said, “It is vital that students thoroughly research their future employment prospects when going to university, so they can make informed choices about the subject they study and institution they attend.”

He voiced his fears that students were totally adrift of likely graduate wages commenting, “Some young adults enter university with unrealistic ambitions about future income levels. Simply having a degree does not guarantee a graduate job and a silver-plated salary.”

Jonathan Black, the director of the Careers Service at the University of Oxford told Cherwell, “average starting salary for the graduation year of 2008 has risen by 6.5%, which in itself is a 6.5% rise on the year before.”

Class of 2009 at Oxford can expect earnings of £25,500. However, only 33% of finalists are expected to join the graduate job market at the end of their students.

Jonathan Black believes that the 90% employment rate for Oxford graduates is proof that “most graduates are content with the pay packages they are receiving upon leaving the university.”

The number of Oxford students going into research has seen a rise in the last two years. Although many have seen this as a reaction to the current financial climate,
Black was eager to highlight that we should not be too hasty in exaggerating the crisis as far as Oxford is concerned.

He commented, “One of the first places where recruiters look is still Oxford. It is not all doom and gloom for people graduating at the moment.”

Secondary education is the field where the largest proportion of students is going to for jobs. Social Sciences is the division which offers the prospect of the highest average starting salary, at 28,000.

Students of humanities have the lowest average starting salary to look forward to, at 7,000. However, for all divisions at the University of Oxford the average starting salary has grown in the last few years.


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