Government plans to make students pay more for higher education are based on false assumptions about graduates' job prospects and earnings, Anthony Hesketh, lecturer in management learning at Lancaster University, told this week's annual conference of the Association of Graduate Recruiters.
US employment trends show that the knowledge economy will not support enough graduate jobs to employ rising numbers of people with degrees. In the US, where participation in higher education has already hit 50 per cent, economists have predicted that just one job in four will require higher level skills by 2010.
The same pattern applies to the UK, where the government is pursuing a 50 per cent participation target while arguing that students should pay more for a degree to increase their earning power.
The warning came as the association revealed that the number of vacancies for graduate jobs has dropped by 6.5 per cent this year.