A new report from the Higher Education Statistics Agency shows that three years after they were first surveyed, the percentage of graduates in full-time paid employment has reached 74 per cent compared with just 57 per cent when first surveyed three years ago.
It found that 80 per cent of employed graduates were working in ‘graduate' occupations compared with 71 per cent when first surveyed. The average graduate salary for those living in the UK and working full-time was found to be £23,000.
However, many students are still struggling to pay off student debt. According to a report from Government think tank Reform, overall student debt has increased by 167 per cent over the last ten years from £1.2 billion in 1997 to £3.2 billion this year. And, despite a slight decline this year compared with 2006 figures, graduates’ earnings do not appear to account for such high levels of debt.
“Unfortunately, this is most likely a momentary respite, as future increases in tuition fees will again drive graduate debts upwards,” says the report. It predicts that students beginning courses in 2007 face an average debt of £14,841 when they leave university, higher than the £14,779 that awaits last year’s intake.
There is a glimmer of hope for prospective students, however. The Department of Innovation, Universities and Skills has launched a new scheme whereby a third of students starting in 2008 are expected to receive a full, non-repayable grant of £2835 and a further one-third expected to receive some level of non-repayable grant. This means that new students could receive up to £9,050 a year including repayable student loans for living costs and bursaries.
Another reason for optimism is uncovered by Birmingham Midshires, whose Saving Britain campaign has found that the number of young people with a savings account has doubled compared with six months ago. More than half o under 25s opted for an online savings account and 15 per cent chose an ISA to take advantage of tax benefits.
"It’s great news to see more young people enter into the savings market. Starting the savings habit at a young age is a great step to securing a healthy financial future,” says Rachel Thrussell, head of savings at Moneyfacts.co.uk.
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