Poor rankings stymie graduate work prospects

November 4, 2005

A third of company directors refuse to recruit graduates from universities that are at the bottom of newspaper league tables, writes Jessica Shepherd.

Research for the Institute of Directors reveals that 32 per cent of its members avoid employing graduates from "certain establishments".

This means institutions at the bottom of national league tables, the institute told The Times Higher . The research was published in a letter outlining concerns about the higher education sector sent to Universities UK.

The letter from Richard Wilson, the IoD's head of business policy, says that one of the most pressing worries among company directors is graduates' standards of numeracy and literacy.

"Only 44 per cent of company directors believed that the graduates they employed had the skills necessary to perform their jobs efficiently," he writes.

"Directors would like to assume that the graduates they recruit have a basic level of numeracy and literacy, but unfortunately that is not always the case."

The institute suggests to UUK that the most common degree classification, the upper second, be subdivided to distinguish between very good and good graduates.

Mr Wilson says: "Greater weight on coursework, continual assessment and modules rather than reliance on final exams has exacerbated the trend of rising proportions of top degrees."

He adds that IoD members "have concerns about the integrity and rigour of degrees, believing that top grades have become easier to achieve in recent years".

The research comes after publication of a Government-backed study showing that nearly a third of graduates are in "non-graduate" jobs four years after entering the workplace.

The report, by Peter Elias of Warwick University and Kate Purcell of Bristol University, shows for the first time that the financial advantage of having a degree has started to fall.

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