Part-time students get jobs first

05-07-2005

Part-time students are half as likely to be unemployed after they have left university than full-time students. Official figures show that 3% of part-time and 7% of full-time students were unemployed in the year following their graduation.

The Higher Education Statistics Agency figures also show that male graduates are almost twice as likely to be unemployed as female.

Universities are warning that tuition fee plans threaten part-time courses.

The annual report on Destinations of Leavers from Higher Education in the United Kingdom provides a snapshot of student activity after university - and these figures show that overall employment levels for full-time students have remained the same - at 63%.

Starting salaries

Among the remaining former students, 16% went on to further study and 8% combined further study with work.

The average income for students entering their first jobs was �18,000 - an increase of �1,000 from the previous year, giving no indication that increasing numbers of students meant lower earnings for graduates.

But among part-time students, a higher proportion entered work and fewer were unemployed - at a time of warnings from universities that part-time courses are under threat from changes in tuition fees.

The overhaul of student finance to be introduced next year will see a sharp increase in tuition fees to up to �3,000 per year - but this is offset by the fees being made repayable after graduation.

However the plan to defer repayment only applies to full-time students - excluding the 40% of university students who study part-time.

Universities have warned that this will either mean charging part-time students the full fees, up-front - and risk making courses unaffordable. Or universities say they will be forced to subsidise courses out of already stretched budgets.

Earlier this summer, Professor Ivor Crewe, the president of Universities UK, warned of the threat to part-time courses.

"Unless the government takes action, the provision of part-time higher education will become less attractive to cash-strapped universities, just when we ought to be making the most of the strengths of this form of higher education."

'Non-graduate' jobs

The Conservative higher education spokesman, Stephen O'Brien, highlighted that 39% of graduates were working in "non-graduate" jobs - and raised concerns about young people not having adequate graduate opportunities to pay off their student debts.

"Two out of every five graduates must be wondering whether it was worth incurring such a large amount of debt. It is clear from these statistics that more and more graduates are not going into jobs that will enable them to pay off their ever increasing loans. It also goes to show that a real vocational alternative is lacking," said Mr O'Brien.

The Higher Education Minister, Bill Rammell, said the figures showed it was a "good time to be a graduate".

"Many graduates have not settled into their longer-term career by six months, which is the stage this survey shows us. Three and a half years after graduating over 80% of employed graduates are in jobs using their degree level skills," said Mr Rammell.

BBC News

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