STUDENTS at Scotland’s leading universities are among those least likely to have a job lined up for when they graduate.
The annual UK graduate careers survey found that fewer than 40 per cent of final-year students at Edinburgh, Glasgow and St Andrews expected to find work immediately. The majority planned to go on to further education.
Glasgow students topped a poll of graduates who planned to apply for work at a later date with 39 per cent of leavers choosing to complete postgraduate courses or take time off before entering the job market.
But 54 per cent of students at Strathclyde University had already secured employment before graduating or were planning to move straight into work.
More than 18,000 undergraduates from 30 universities took part in the UK-wide survey, approximately one-fifth of students who will leave their courses in 2014.
More than half of students who left their graduate job search until the final year of their studies were unsure what they could do after university and realised they should have started job hunting earlier.
Alastair Sim, director of Universities Scotland, said: “For three years running, graduates from Scotland’s universities have had the highest levels of positive destinations of work or further study in the UK as well as the highest average starting salaries and lowest levels of unemployment.
“Every one of Scotland’s universities has employability embedded at the core of its learning and teaching experience, and we’re engaging ever more closely with business and industry to respond to their needs.”
More than 2,000 students at four Scottish universities took part in the survey which was supported by 67 graduate employers including Shell, Sainsbury’s and British Airways.
Martin Birchall, managing director of High Fliers Research, the firm which carried out the research, said: “Our latest research confirms just how dramatically the process of getting a graduate job has changed over the last five years.
“Finding a first graduate job for after university is no longer something that students do in their final few months of study – nearly half of those graduating this summer from the ‘class of 2014’ had started researching their career options by the end of their first year at university and record numbers of students made their job applications to employers up to a year before graduation.”
However, Gordon Maloney, president of National Union of Students (NUS) in Scotland, urged caution.
Mr Maloney said: “It’s perhaps not surprising that many students, and people generally, are pessimistic about their future when economic policies across the UK are failing to provide the opportunities that they want and need.
“We know that Scottish graduates do well in terms of finding jobs or further study, but that needs to be guaranteed for all.”