Oxford trailing rival in job race

August 16, 2002

Oxford University graduates were more likely to end up unemployed than their rivals at Cambridge University last year, latest careers statistics show. Both universities have blamed recession for disappointing employment figures, writes Phil Baty.

Data from the universities' careers services show that some 5.5 per cent of Oxford's 2001 graduates were still seeking a job six months after leaving the university compared with 4 per cent from Cambridge.

Both institutions, among the best for finding their graduates jobs, usually report a figure between 2 and 4 per cent, against an average for all universities of about 6 per cent.

Tony Butler, director of Oxford's careers service, said the unemployment figure was the highest for a decade, up from 3.3 per cent last year and 1.9 per cent in 1998. He said Oxford was affected by the economic downturn, particularly in the sectors that attract Oxford students such as banking and consultancy.

"Increased levels of student debt have increased pressure to get good degrees, and many students just don't find time to sort out their careers until they leave," he said.

He said the university was not particularly alarmed by the increased unemployment as it was a national phenomenon, temporary and affected only a few students.

Cambridge's careers service reported that the job market had become more difficult in 2001, especially after September 11. But it was pleased that 59 per cent of the 2,241 graduates whose destinations were known went straight into employment or directly related training. Some 28 per cent went on to further study.

Gradates hoping for a career in management consultancy were worst hit, with just 72 Cambridge graduates finding work in the field, compared with 111 in 2000. Computer consultancy was also hit hard, with just 40 graduates joining the field compared with 77 in 2000.

The favourite career for Cambridge graduates remained in the financial sector - 94 went into banking/investment management, up from 82 in 2000, while 34 began on the path to becoming chartered accountants and 13 became tax consultants. Law was also popular, recruiting 158 graduates, including 23 on their way to the Bar.

Oxbridge graduates are still largely shunning teacher training. Despite "training salaries" of £6,000 for graduates opting to study for a postgraduate certificate in education, just 45 Cambridge graduates chose teacher training.

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