Unstinting fast food and blue chips

August 9, 1996

Your item on the preliminary results of the 1995 graduate destinations survey (THES, August 2) released by the Higher Education Statistics Agency contained a couple of errors.

The total of 177,500 first-degree graduates whose destinations were known did not represent a 103 per cent increase on 1992/93.

The 1994/95 HESA figure refers to first-degree graduates from full-time courses at 173 United Kingdom higher education institutions, whereas the 1992/93 figure from the Universities' Statistical Record with which you compared it applied only to the 50 former University Funding Council-funded universities, In fact the rise in the number of first-degree graduates was probably closer to 25 per cent.

Because of these differences in the populations surveyed and changes in definitions of destinations, it is not valid to compare the 1992/93 and 1994/95 figures for employment or unemployment.

It is worth emphasising both that this survey represents a snapshot of degree holders' careers just six months after graduation (hence the misleadingly high unemployment rate).

Also that the classification of short-term employment does not imply anything about the quality of a graduate's job - it can include both a three-month stint serving burgers in a fast-food restaurant and an initial 12-month contract with a blue-chip company.

Bob Ward Statistical information manager Higher Education Careers Services Unit

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