College choice affects graduate earnings

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Data exclusively obtained by Cherwell indicates some shocking trends in salary levels among recently graduated Oxford students. Figures show that within six months of graduating, students from certain colleges earn significantly more than those at others.

Provisional survey data of the statistics from the Destination of Leavers from Higher Education census show that at Keble, the average salary six months after graduation was £36,100. The figure at Wadham was almost half of this, at £20,700.

President of Wadham Student Union President Jacob Haddad speculated that this was perhaps because Wadham graduates opted for lower paid careers, saying, “Many students at Wadham see themselves pursuing careers in the public sector, the third sector, or the arts.

“While salary level is an important measure of success, many students here would argue that it is no more important than job satisfaction and having a socially beneficial career. 

Sebastian Leape, a first year PPE student at Keble said that he was surprised by the College’s high average, but added, “Although Keble is not as academic as other colleges, the class group is sociable and confident.”

The data also showed significant gender imbalances, with female graduates earning less than their male counterparts.

At LMH, for instance, the average salary for male undergraduate leavers was £38,100 while the female average was just £21,500.

Accounting for the differences, Jonathan Black, Director of the Careers Service, said it may be because fewer women choose to go into the City, and opt instead for jobs in health care or teaching.

He added, “The question for me is why women don’t feel they want to apply to the City – when we studied this with about 600 students a year or two ago we learned that women students felt there was significant prejudice in the City (and elsewhere) that manifested particularly in promotion prospects.”

Where the information was provided, the statistics also revealed the occupations which recent Oxford students have entered.

At least 362 go into secondary education, while 38 of the respondents entered the clergy, and 20 becoming authors or writers.

The independent education charity Teach First told Cherwell that almost one in ten current Oxbridge finalists had applied to join their 2011 intake

In total, 84 Oxford graduates will be joining the scheme this year which makes up just over a tenth of the scheme’s total intake.

Liz Brewer, a Senior Officer in their Graduate Recruitment Department, said the company targeted all universities but had a “high presence” in Oxford and held many events with colleges, faculties and university societies throughout the year.

She added that they had already had “a lot of interest” from Oxford students for their 2012 intake despite only opening for applications a few weeks ago.

The statistics show that 45% of 2010 leavers took up employment while 37% opted for further study and a further 5% were combining work and study.

The 2010 unemployment figure for those finishing undergraduate courses was 7%.

Commenting on this figure, Jonathan Black said the figure had changed little over recent years and added, “Those who had been unsuccessful at interview, and had received feedback, found it was predominantly about lack of specific experience that let them down.”

However, the postgraduate unemployment figure had gone up by 4 percentage points since 2008 which Black described as “a worrying rise”.

In light of the introduction of the £9,000 annual fee, the statistics showed the number of students earning below the £21,000 repayment threshold.

If the current levels earning below this amount were maintained, 50% of Humanities students would pay nothing back on graduation in 2015 although the figure was only 25% for those in MPLS and social science courses.

Rafael Palluch, a third-year Economics and Management student said he already had a job offer in a financial company after completing an internship at the firm.

He said he had faced few difficulties in the process, commenting, “If you only plan ahead moving on is very easy.”

Commenting on the reliability of the survey, Jonathan Black said they were only able to reach 80% of UK-domiciled leavers as well as 65% of EU-domiciled and 35% of international leavers but admitted the data did have limitations and was “directionally sound, not statistically significant.”

He was positive about the graduate employment situation in Oxford, saying that the number of permanent vacancies posted on the Oxford vacancy situation had risen by 45% in the first 5 months of 2011.

Black said he believed that Oxford graduates were still at an advantage when it came to finding employment, adding, “I don’t believe that other universities will have seen such a large rise in graduate employment prospects – nationally we hear of 10%-15% rises – we believe that we are reaching new employers who traditionally have not advertised at Oxford or considered hiring an Oxford graduate.”

Commenting on the employment situation within the context of the fees rise, David Barclay, outgoing OUSU President, said there would be an “increasing focus for students on how Oxford prepares them for the world of work”

He added, “Whilst it would clearly be wrong for Oxford to turn into a production line for the economy, the University does have a responsibility to invest in student development in a holistic sense.”

“That means better support for clubs and societies, more training for Common Room officers, and proper funding for organisations.”

The full data set containing the survey results is due to be officially released by the Careers Service within the next fortnight.

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