The association today published the summer edition of its biannual survey, for which it canvassed 215 of its members across 20 sectors.
Its members had predicted a 4 per cent rise to a median average of £26,000 in a previous survey.
But the association says that “data in the summer edition reveals an even more positive picture, as recruiters exceeded their estimate and indicated an expected increase of 6 per cent, to £26,500 [median average]. This follows three consecutive years of salary standstill from 2009-2011.”
That good news is tempered, however, by predictions that the number of graduate vacancies will fall by 0.6 per cent.
Association members range from companies such as Microsoft and Deloitte to universities.
A separate survey, published today by High Fliers Research, says that “starting salaries at the UK’s leading graduate employers in 2012 are expected to remain unchanged for the third year running – at a median of £29,000”.
It says that “despite the widespread recruitment freeze at government departments and agencies, public sector employers have expanded their graduate intake by a fifth and there have been significant increases in entry-level recruitment at engineering and industrial companies, oil and energy companies, IT and telecommunications firms and the leading retailers”.
Carl Gilleard, chief executive of the AGR, said: “It is reassuring to see that employers are investing in graduate talent.
“The significant rise in starting salaries to £26,500 will be very good news indeed to students, who are bracing themselves to take on higher levels of debt as tuition fees rise to £9,000 from September this year.”
The Association of Graduate Recruiters survey also shows that there are fewer applications per vacancy this year, having fallen to an average of 73 per post from a high of 83 applications per vacancy last year.
Mr Gilleard said: “Naturally, businesses will be thinking carefully about where best to invest, and I would argue that, where graduate schemes are concerned, you really do get out what you put in.”