Roof top grads and hot dogs

We conducted a rooftop group discussion with ten graduates and asked them to about their graduate experience whilst supplying them with vast amounts of burgers and sausages.

We wanted to find out about their university experience, their views on careers advise services, rising tuition fees and graduate job hunting.

Here’s what we found out…

Firstly we asked them about their careers advice services, whether they attended and what they got out of it.

Only half of the group had been to see their careers advice service. One of the reasons for not going to get advice was that the service was not widely advertised. Others were given the impression that the careers service did not encourage students to attend. One said that out of his three years at university the careers service only made themselves known once.

One group member admitted that he didn’t go to his career advice service because he didn’t think he would need the service stating that, “I was just over confident that I would be able to get a job at the end of it.”

Another said they attended Personal Academic Development which was a workshop for CV advice and job hunting after university.  The university got money for the students that took part however she said, “It wasn’t useful and gave us no hands on experience.”

We then asked the group about their views on graduate starting salaries salary and their expectations.

One answered; “I would be thinking 20k but settle for 18k if I had to.”

We then told them the average graduate salary which is between £25-26k (these figures are slightly distorted by sectors like banking and law which have a much higher starting salary, as opposed to media for example, one of the sectors we place most candidates in). Some of the group were shocked and yelled back at us;

“I have been lead to believe I would be lucky to earn 20k” whilst one said that he had seen a job in television in London starting on £14k.

We recently attended Graduate Answer Time, a ‘question time’ style panel event organised by totaljobs.com, where members of the NUS, university board members, the AGR, members of The Russell Group and graduate recruiters discussed and debated to what extent the rise in tuition fees will alter university Experiences.

This raised an interesting question about how the rising fees will affect the choice of course and job prospects after university. To find out how students felt about paying £9,000 a year we posed the question on Facebook. The majority (46.4%) voted that they would possibly think twice about studying a purely academic subject. A further 14.2% said they would definitely think about a vocational subject that would enhance their employability. However, 17.8% voted that it would probably not affect their decision but that it would make them think about their job prospects post university. The jokers amongst you (17.8%) opted for the subtle, ‘Definitely not! What mug wrote this question anyway?’ option.

With this in mind we asked the roof-top group.  One cried, “I wouldn’t go to university now, not at £9,000 a year!”Some of the group said it would make them think more about the course they choose, possibly choosing a more vocational course or business related degree and how it would affect their employability after university. One said; “I would definitely do something with more guaranteed prospects.”

Another said she is pleased her academic degree in English but rising fees would make her think twice.  She said, “I am glad I did it, but if I was to do it now I would be more reluctant to go because of the higher fee.”

Others would think about adding further value through gaining work experience or travelling abroad to study or take on an internship. One said, “I think the experience is worth so much more than a degree now. I wish I had done more in my summers related to what I actually wanted to do because no-one really cares about the degree any more, they want the experience.”

Another said, “It is much more important to get the experience and maybe languages and going abroad than university because it is hard to get a job or graduate internship.”

When asked whether they worried about employability when you were at university, one answered, “I was quite naive and thought it would be much easier than this.”

The most interesting comment of the day was as follows: “When it was £3,000 I didn’t really think about it I just always knew I was going to go. But £9,000 that’s just ridiculous, I just couldn’t do it!” This begs the question, will students starting university in 2012 accept the fee hike as we did in 2006?

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