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Up to one in 10 graduates unemployed a year after leaving some universities

Graduates of computer science and law have some of the highest unemployment rates, figures show.

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Nearly one in 10 graduates of some universities are still unemployed 15 months after leaving higher education, official figures show.

Overall, data shows that, of young people leaving full-time undergraduate courses in 2017/18, around 4% of UK graduates were out of work more than a year after leaving university.

But new figures, published by the Higher Education Statistics Agency (Hesa), show that the proportion of graduates unemployed 15 months after graduation is almost 10% at some institutions.

Of the non-specialist universities, Soas University of London had the highest proportion (9%) of UK graduates out of work after leaving full-time courses, once significant interim study was excluded.

The proportion of UK graduates still unemployed more than a year after leaving higher education was also high at the University of East London (8%), the London Metropolitan University (8%), University College Birmingham (7%) and Bradford University (7%), according to the latest Hesa data.

The survey, which looked at data of 361,215 graduates, also looked at outcomes by degree subject and it found graduates of computer science and law have some of the highest unemployment rates.

Around 5% of UK graduates of computer science and law were unemployed 15 months after leaving their full-time undergraduate course, the data shows.

The figures are even higher for law (7%) if those who have spent a significant period in full-time study are not removed from the data.

Rachel Hewitt, director of policy and advocacy at the Higher Education Policy Institute (Hepi), said the findings show that most graduates are in “a positive position” 15 months after they leave university.

She said: “Although one in 10 graduates are unemployed at this stage, this may be partly counteracted by the fact some of these graduates will just be leaving a Masters course.

“This may particularly explain higher levels of unemployment among law graduates, who are likely to have taken up additional qualifications.”

She added: “There has long been relatively high unemployment rates for computer science graduates and it is concerning to see this unexplained trend continued 15 months after graduation.

“More research is needed to better understand what is driving this.”

Nicola Dandridge, chief executive of the Office for Students, said: “To maintain their registration with the Office for Students, universities must meet a number of conditions around the quality of their provision, including the outcomes of their graduates.

“With the job market only likely to become more challenging in the wake of coronavirus, this data is more important than ever.”

Soas said it did not believe the data was “representative” of the full 2018 cohort of students, as they have very few UK students.

“Soas attracts many international students and they are not included in this data – indeed the international student data, by contrast, shows that Soas matches other leading HEIs,” a spokesman for the university said.

They added: “Soas students are supported by our fantastic careers service from the start of their enrolment until graduation. We offer tailored careers support for Soas students via our careers registration questionnaire which all students complete at the start of every year.”

A London Met spokesperson said: “This data is helpful because it shows the wide range of pathways our graduates choose to follow, with many engaging in voluntary work, part-time work and further study alongside those in full-time jobs.

“As Hesa note, it is important to exercise caution when using data from experimental statistics, particularly in this first ever release. Additionally, the low response rates will not reveal a complete picture of graduate activity.”

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