University leavers from some ethnic minorities face growing disadvantages in the job market in the years after graduation, a study has revealed.
An analysis of graduate outcomes conducted by the Higher Education Funding Council for England found that, while only 64.1 per cent of students who left university during the recession in 2009 were in so-called professional jobs six months later, this had increased to 77.8 per cent after three and a half years.
However, there was significant variation in the prospects for graduates from different ethnic groups, according to data from the Destinations of Leavers from Higher Education survey.
Black Caribbean students were the least likely to be in graduate-level roles six months after graduation, with 55.4 per cent in this category. This was 9.3 percentage points lower than the highest rate of 64.7 per cent, observed among white graduates.
But three years later, the gap between the highest and lowest professional employment rates had widened to 13.2 percentage points. Only 65.9 per cent of black African graduates were in professional jobs at this stage, while Indian and white graduates had the highest rates, of 79.1 per cent and 78.7 per cent respectively.
Les Ebdon, the director of fair access to higher education, said that universities needed to do more “to help ensure that students from all backgrounds are able to fulfil their potential”.
“Despite having studied hard to get to university, many students from disadvantaged backgrounds continue to face barriers to success after they graduate,” he said.
The proportion of qualifiers who were in further study or employment, professional or otherwise, rose from 90 per cent six months after graduation to 96.4 per cent at three and a half years.
Again, there were significant differences in the prospects for students from different backgrounds, but these tended to narrow over time.
Chinese graduates had the lowest overall employment rate six months after graduation, at 78.4 per cent. This was 12.8 percentage points lower than the highest rate, among white qualifiers (91.2 per cent).
However, three and a half years after leaving university, Chinese graduates had an employment rate (96.5 per cent) similar to their white peers (97.2 per cent). Black African graduates had the lowest employment rate at this stage, at 88.1 per cent, 9.1 percentage points lower than the highest rate.