Most undergraduates believe that higher education offers good value for money, even though the amount they expect to earn after graduation is less than employers claim to pay, a nationwide survey has found.
Asked whether they thought going to university was worth the financial burden, 91 per cent of the 25,000 students who responded to the Hobsons survey said yes.
But the average annual salary most expected to be on after graduating was about £20,250 - £1,750 lower than research has shown to be the current average market rate for a graduate job.
The high satisfaction score was also a surprise in the light of the survey's finding that more than a quarter of undergraduates felt they had chosen the wrong degree. Some 26 per cent said they would have taken a different degree if they had known more about the career market.
The survey, commissioned by Capital One, also revealed that more than a third (36 per cent) of students felt that their A levels were not sufficient preparation for higher education.
But most appeared to be preparing for working life. Half said they were seeking vocational work experience, 47 per cent had done some volunteer work and 34 per cent had completed a work placement or internship.
Among those seeking full-time employment, the most popular careers were in business management, engineering, finance, investment banking and management consulting.
The survey findings were published as new figures from the Higher Education Statistics Agency showed that 63 per cent of people who graduated in 2004-05 were in employment, while 8 per cent were combining work with study, 16 per cent were doing further study, 7 per cent were assumed to be unemployed and the remainder were travelling, sick or looking after their family.