The percentage of people leaving full time higher education in employment rose from 61 per cent for 2008-09 to 64 per cent for 2009-10, according to figures from the Higher Education Statistics Agency released yesterday, although 8 per cent are still thought to be unemployed and graduate salaries have stagnated.
Nearly as many leavers from last years’ cohort are employed as in 2005-06, when 66 per cent were employed and 6 per cent did not have a job.
Since then, in the wake of the global credit crunch and recession, the percentage employed has fallen every year – until now.
For graduates with a first degree, who make up the majority of leavers, employment rose from 59 per cent to 63 per cent year on year.
A further 7 per cent were in a combination of employment and study, 16 per cent in further study, while 9 per cent were assumed to be unemployed.
On Monday, the Association of Graduate Recruiters reported that in 2010 the number of graduate vacancies increased by 8.9 per cent, although the average number of applications for each place was 69, up from 49 in 2009.
Yet the Hesa figures also show that the median salary of leavers from all full-time courses remained the same as last year at £20,000, despite inflation running at 4.5 per cent in the year to May.
A gender pay gap exists, as men with first degrees earned a median salary of £20,000, compared to £19,000 for women.
As just 55 per cent of first degree leavers provided salary information, Hesa urged “caution” in interpreting the salary data.
The figures also showed no improvement in prospects for doctorate students, with 82 per cent finding employment in the UK or overseas, the same proportion as last year, and a fall of 2 per cent since 2007-08.