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In a week when the government reshuffled its cabinet, HE issues that made headlines gave the newly-appointed universities minister a taste of things to come, says Stephen Isherwood, Chief Executive of the Institute of Student Employers .
The past week’s events and news are a sign of turbulent times for UK universities, warns Nicola Owen, Deputy Chief Executive (Operations) at Lancaster University.
Mike Ratcliffe, academic registrar at Nottingham Trent University, reflects on issues emerging from a packed week of higher education news.
The Office of the Independent Adjudicator for higher education has reported almost a 21 per cent rise in the number of complaints it received from students last year – rising to their highest ever level at 2,371.
The financial services industry continues to be the main recruiter of university graduates into professional employment, according to new rankings.
For the second year running, PricewaterhouseCoopers heads the Complete University Guide table of employers recruiting from among the 2013/14 output of graduates, with last year’s runner up, the pharmaceuticals and retail giant Boots, still in second place.
PwC dramatically increased its intake, to around 530 graduates from around 370 in the preceding year.
And three other financial services companies dominate the top of the table – Deloitte third with 320, KPMG fourth with 235 and Ernst & Young fifth equal with Specsavers, recruiting 230.
TheCompleteUniversityGuide.co.uk analysis of the Destination of Leavers from Higher Education (DLHE) survey shows Boots recruited some 365 graduates.
Jaguar Land Rover (seventh) climbs two places to become the highest placed representative of manufacturing industry in the top ten recruiters. Rolls-Royce, which was seventh last year, falls back to tenth position.
With an intake of around 175 graduates, Enterprise, the diverse civil engineering and maintenance company, is in eighth place.
The Metropolitan Police, which becomes the largest public sector recruiter of graduates to professional-level employment, is equal eighth. The Met overtakes the British Army, which falls back to 15th, equal with Tesco, the second highest placed retailer after Specsavers.
Only the top 20 employers filled in excess of 100 posts each, according to the DLHE, with a combined total of more than 3,870 recruits to professional level work.
The analysis, covering more than 1,300 potential employers, excludes new graduate start-up businesses and smaller companies with fewer than four graduate recruits. Doctors, dentists and nurses are also excluded because they would normally seek employment within the NHS.
Regional data shows that the public sector remains an important employer of graduates in many regions.
In the North East ten of the 17 recruiters of ten or more graduates are in the public sector and, of these, seven are local councils, while another of the top recruiters is the charity Teach First, a number of whose employees will be working in maintained schools.
In Scotland, nine of the 22 organisations recruiting 20 or more graduates are in the public sector, and eight are local authorities. The ninth is Police Scotland.
In Wales six of the 15 organisations recruiting ten or more graduates are in the public sector. The biggest recruiter is Aberystwyth University (some 25 posts), with Cardiff University (15 posts) second equal with Cardiff City Council. The others are two other local authorities (Carmarthenshire County Council and Newport City Council) and the Office for National Statistics (all with some ten recruits each).
Even in the South East, eight of the 20 recruiters of 20 graduates are in the public sector. The largest is the British Army with 95, followed by Hampshire County Council (50), Kent County Council (40), Southampton Solent University (35), the University of Oxford (30), Thames Valley Police (25), and Surrey and West Sussex County Councils (20 each). Together they account for more than 300 of the posts for graduate professionals in the region.
Dr Bernard Kingston, principal author of TheCompleteUniversityGuide.co.uk, said: “This analysis gives students thinking about their careers after university an evidence-based picture of the companies and organisations that recruit graduates into professional jobs, both nationally and, importantly, regionally.
“The data are derived from returns by graduates, and their declared destinations have not been confirmed by the employers themselves. Nevertheless, we believe it is a valuable service for young people looking for graduate level employment in extremely challenging times.”
Top Graduate Employers
Ernst & Young
Jaguar Land Rover
Lloyds Banking Group
British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC)
Ministry of Defence (MOD)
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