Graduate unemployment soars 44 per cent to highest rate for over a decade.
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Graduate unemployment has soared 44 per cent by a year and is now at its highest for more than a decade, according to research published yesterday.
Nearly one in 10 students who graduated from university in summer 2008 were out of work the following January - up from 5.5 per cent the year before.
The authors of the research warn that students who graduated this year face an even tougher struggle to find work.
It came separate figures showed that students are flocking to universities regardless in the hope of riding out the recession.
The number of candidates meeting an initial application deadline for degree course places starting in 2010 has shot up 12 per cent on last year.
Redundant employees seeking to boost their skills are thought to be driving the trend.
The rise in graduate unemployment has been particularly severe in the architecture and civil engineering sectors.
Joblessness among architecture and construction graduates nearly tripled from 2.9 per cent in 2007 to 8.5 per cent for 2008 graduates, according to research from the Higher Education Careers Services Unit.
The proportion of civil engineering graduates without a job increased from 2.4 per cent to seven per cent.
But recruitment to public sector jobs bucked the downward trend.
The number of graduates entering healthcare, teaching and social work increased.
At the same time, those choosing careers in financial services, including financial advisers and mortgage consultants, fell, reflecting the downturn in the industry.
The findings come as Lord Mandelson is today set to reveal a 10-year blueprint for universities.
It will include proposals for a new labelling system for university degrees - modelled on food nutrition information - which would include details of graduate employment rates and future earnings.
Mike Hill, chief executive of HECSU, said: 'We’re now starting to see the extent of the impact the recession has had on graduate employment.
‘Despite unemployment increasing, for those who have found a job, salary levels are holding up.’
Meanwhile figures from the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service suggested that pupils face the toughest competition yet for university places.
It released figures for students applying for medicine, dentistry and veterinary science and for Oxford and Cambridge, who must abide by an earlier deadline.
The number of applications from UK students leapt 11 per cent on last year. At Oxford, they went up 12 per cent.
But the number of extra places earmarked by the Government for 2010 have been largely spoken for, it emerged.
They will mainly go to vulnerable subjects and healthcare courses, raising concerns for students applying for arts and humanities courses.
Applicants from outside the UK rose 16.6 per cent. Universities can create as many places they like for students outside the EU but face strict limits for UK and EU students.
Virginia Isaacs, acting chief executive of UCAS, said: 'It is likely that competition for places will be strong, but all applications that arrive before the deadline of January 15 will be given equal consideration by the universities and colleges.