Statistical lacunae

October 16, 2008

Despite what Mike Hill (Letters, 9 October) says about information on graduate prospects, the statistics are far from ideal. There are a number of problems with variables depending on the type of career sought and the socio-economic circumstances of graduates at different institutions.

Consider law students who wish to become practising solicitors or barristers. They must do a further year of study on an expensive course. At universities where students' families are relatively well off, students tend to proceed immediately. But at those where students are from less wealthy families and where there is no strong encouragement to proceed directly to the postgraduate qualification, many graduates take a year out to earn money and gain experience. These graduates will not count as being in graduate employment or further study six months from graduation, so their institution will be poorly rated for employment prospects, although their future prospects may be as good as other students'.

The figures are not remotely reliable as an indicator of relative graduate prospects.

Richard Austen-Baker, Lecturer in law, Lancaster University Law School.

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