Most graduate jobs do not carry starting salaries above the repayment threshold for student loans, according to a Career Services Unit survey.
CSU figures show that the average salary was Pounds 13,000 and that 69.3 per cent of graduate jobs advertised in universities last year fell below Pounds 13,980, the loan repayment threshold set at 85 per cent of national average earnings.
The Student Loans Company has said that it is not concerned by the figures. It said that official estimates predicted that 60-65 per cent of last year's graduates would be receiving less than Pounds 13,980. Next year, 30 per cent of last year's graduates are expected to still be defering payment, and by 1998 16,000 graduates - roughly 10 per cent of last year's cohort - are not expected to have started repaying the loan.
But Roly Cockman of the Association of Graduate Recruiters, which represents the larger companies, said the figure of Pounds 13,000 reflects the fact that the CSU publication Prospects Today, which was sampled for the survey, attracts advertisements primarily from small and medium-sized enterprises "who tend to offer slightly lower salaries".
A CSU spokesman said that there was usually a Pounds 500 difference between the average CSU and AGR starting salary figure.
Margaret Wallis, of the association of graduate careers advisory service, said: "Graduates are taking a responsible attitude to job-hunting by accepting lower paid jobs and getting valuable experience rather than sitting around and waiting for the Pounds 14K job."