Graduate jobs
Employers filter job applications according to university rankings, a new survey has found. Source: Shutterstock

So you want to land a graduate job in the UK and you want to do it fast. Well, it helps to have a degree from a Russell Group universitiy, a new survey suggests.

Surveying 1,500 new graduates, UK graduate recruiter Milkround found that many firms filtered job applications by university ranking.

It also found that Russell Group graduates found work faster than their peers elsewhere. In the span of just weeks after graduation, only two-thirds of graduates from other institutions landed full-time roles. Among Russell Group institutions, however, four out of five graduates were in full-time work.

Speaking to the BBC, graduate jobs expert at Milkround, Georgina Brazier urged businesses to take a more balanced approach instead of “tick-box exercises such as filtering candidates by university league tables”.

Businesses were missing out on the chance to recruit some “fantastic grads from other universities,” she said.

For students, this recruitment bias hurts them financially. Regardless of which institution they graduated from, they take on the same level of debt or student loans, Brazier explained.

“The investment students make to attend university and gain their degree is substantial and whilst academic success should be applauded, some graduates feel the return on investment when entering the workplace should be fairer.”

A significant minority of students also want “blind” recruitment where a candidates’ socio-economic background, such as gender or religion, would not be revealed, according to a separate poll conducted by Milkround

The 24 universities in the Russell Group are Birmingham, Bristol, Cambridge, Cardiff, Durham, Edinburgh, Exeter, Glasgow, Imperial College London, King’s College London, Leeds, Liverpool, London School of Economics and Political Science, Manchester, Newcastle, Nottingham, Oxford, Queen Mary University of London, Queen’s University Belfast, Sheffield, Southampton, University College London, Warwick and York.

These public research universities are often described as Britain’s “elite” and generally perform well in both national and international league tables.

Milkround’s findings build on previous research which found that Russell Group graduates also earn more than their peers. Just last year, data from the Institute for Fiscal Studies found that their salaries exceed those of graduates from other institutions.

“In general we show that it is typically the high-status Russell Group universities which have the highest returns on average, after allowing for the fact that these universities typically admit students with higher earnings potential,” the report said.

London School of Economics (LSE) graduates had the highest earnings by quite some distance, at 70 percent more than the average graduate five years after graduation. Female graduates from LSE earn £45,000 on average while men earn more than £60,000.

Findings from Milkround’s survey confirm what Wendy Piatt, company Director, told The Guardian in 2012: “Graduate recruiters rank 10 Russell Group universities in the top 30 universities worldwide, and Russell Group graduates typically receive a 10 percent salary ‘top-up’ over others.”

But data from the Higher Education Statistics Agency contrasts with this and Milkround’s findings. In terms of employability – measured by the number of graduates who say they are working or studying (or both) six months after completing their studies – Russell Group institutions do not feature in the top 10.

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