Less than half of UK’s big graduate recruiters now demand a 2:1

Institute of Student Employers survey tracks trend towards ‘qualification blind’ recruitment

December 1, 2022
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Less than half of major graduate recruiters in the UK now demand that applicants have a 2:1 degree, a survey reveals.

While an upper second remains the most common requirement for graduate roles, the Institute of Student Employers (ISE) found that only 48 per cent of its members now stipulated it as a minimum entry requirement, the first time in the history of its survey that the proportion has dropped below half.

One in five companies requires at least a 2:2 degree. A similar proportion expect applicants to have a degree in a specific subject, while only 6 per cent stipulate a postgraduate degree. Thirteen per cent set a Ucas points minimum.

Meanwhile, there has been an upward trend in the proportion of companies that set no minimum requirements. This rose to 26 per cent of respondents in 2022, up 5 percentage points year-on-year. More than a third of employers reported that they have future plans to shift to qualification-blind recruitment.

Earlier this year, the accountancy firm PwC removed its 2:1 entry requirement, arguing that talent was defined by more than just academic grades. As long ago as 2015, Ernst and Young, known as EY, took a similar step after finding “no evidence” that success at university was correlated with achievement in professional qualifications.

Stephen Isherwood, the ISE’s chief executive, said: “Most graduate employers use a wide range of different approaches to select the right candidate. However, many have questioned the use of Ucas tariffs and degree results as selection criteria, and this has been in decline over a number of years now.

“This highlights a broader trend in the labour market, whereby employers are placing more trust in sophisticated selection tools. They want to broaden their potential talent pool and the universities, colleges and schools they hire from by expecting less educational requirements.

“This makes sense considering the emphasis on creating more diverse workforces. The shift also reflects the lower application-to-vacancy ratio in 2022, and the increased difficulty with filling vacancies this year.”

chris.havergal@timeshighereducation.com

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