Universities should be made to justify top fees: CIPD report

New Research has revealed that a third of recent UK graduates earn well below the national average wage and that the gender gap remains as women are paid less than men six months after graduation.

Universities should be made to justify top fees: CIPD report
A new report by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) recommends that UK universities should be prevented from charging the maximum level of tuition fees unless they deliver better graduate outcomes.

Only half of graduates secure graduate-level jobs

The report shows that just half (52 per cent) of graduates secure a graduate-level jobs six months after they finish their course.The Government’s official figure is inflated to 77 per cent by including ‘associate professional and technical occupations’ such as dancers, choreographers, fitness instructors, youth and community workers, despite the fact that these jobs do not require a degree.Of those employed, almost a third of them are on a salary of less than £20,000, well below the UK average of £28,300.

Government investment in university education vs vocational skills

The findings call into question the current balance between the government’s investment in university education relative to the investment in the UK’s under-funded vocational and adult skills education pathways.
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The report also shows that the continued focus on boosting graduate qualification rates in the UK appears to have had little effect on productivity, with the UK languishing in sixteenth place in terms of labour productivity amongst OECD countries, despite having the fifth highest proportion of residents educated to degree level.Lizzie Crowley, skills adviser at the CIPD, said, “This report shows that the preoccupation of successive governments with boosting graduate numbers is leading to high levels of over-qualification and potentially skills mismatches. Many people in ‘graduate jobs’ are actually in roles that don’t require degrees, and with the spiralling costs of university students need to ask themselves whether a degree path is the best route into their career.“We need much better careers advice and guidance to ensure that young people are equipped with the information they need to make informed decisions, alongside high quality alternative vocational routes into employment that offer routes other than university education.”

Gender pay disparity: women earn less than men

The research also found a clear gender pay disparity for recent graduates 6 months after graduating, even if they studied the same course at a top ten university.The findings were consistent across subject area, with male graduates enjoying a higher salary regardless of the areas of study looked at in the research.
  • More than a quarter (28 per cent) of male law graduates were earning £30k+, compared with just over one in ten (14 per cent) female law graduates
  • Nearly three-quarters (71 per cent) of male medicine and dentistry graduates were earning £30k+, compared to three in five (62 per cent) female graduates
  • More than half (54 per cent) of male veterinary sciences graduates were earning £30k+, compared with just two in five (39 per cent) female graduates
  • Female graduates who managed to secure a job in the top occupational band (managers and senior officials) were almost twice as likely to be paid less than £20,000 as their male counterparts, with 25 per cent of women in this category compared with 15 per cent of men
Ms Crowley continued, “It has long been claimed that the differential in pay between male and female graduates was to do with their chosen subjects of study, but this data proves that the gender pay gap is baked in from the point of graduation. Regardless of what women study, or indeed where they study, they are paid less than their male peers.“If we are going to eliminate the gender pay gap then employers need to ensure they are paying fairly right across their organisation from day one, including among recent graduates.”

STEM graduates are less likely to be employed after 6 months 

Finally, the research also reveals that, despite a strong government focus on boosting Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) subjects, STEM graduates are more likely to be unemployed six months after graduation than graduates from other disciplines. Compared to a national unemployment rate of 4.9 per cent, STEM graduate unemployment rates are:
  • 6 per cent for computer science graduates
  • 5 per cent for physical science graduates
  • 6 per cent for engineering and technology graduates
  • 5 per cent for mathematical science graduates
“The Government has continually focused on boosting STEM skills, and encouraging graduates to pursue those subjects at university, but that investment doesn’t appear to be translating into better graduate outcomes.“Until we address this problem, and do more to identify the core skills that make STEM subjects so valuable, additional investment in STEM risks being wasted,” said Ms Crowley.
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