Oxford graduates have worse employment prospects than those from twelve other universities, including Bath, Newcastle and Buckingham, according to the latest Times Good University Guide.
The Guide’s analysis, based on the employment situation of 2012 leavers six months after graduation, gives Oxford a ‘graduate prospect rating’ of 78.3, compared with 85.1 for Cambridge.
The Careers Service has sent a letter to the Heads of House, Department and Senior Tutors updating them of the employability of graduates.
Jonathan Black, the Director of the Careers, Service and Internship Office insisted that the overall employment rate for 2012 leavers, at roughly 95%, was similar to their Cambridge counterparts, but simply that Oxford alumni had secured fewer ‘graduate level’ jobs six months after their graduation.
He said: “As yet we cannot explain why this is, or even if it is important. In a career of up to 50 years, does it matter? We have some hypotheses we are testing to see if there’s a connection but it’s going to take some time. Perhaps the message is that Oxford students will get a job, but may need to push themselves to get that ‘graduate level’ job.”
Students who left Oxford in 2012 have voiced concern over the new figures. Anna Lewis, who studied English at Somerville and now works as a freelance theatre designer, said: “It really does surprise me that we are lower than so many other universities. It’s been tricky finding work in the arts field, and several of my friends are in a similar position to me.”
She added: “I have been tutoring in order to top up my income, as have an awful lot of my friends.”
Kirsten Macfarlane, who studied at Lincoln between 2009-2012 commented on the disappointing figures: “I would like to think it’s because Oxford students want more and don’t succumb as easily to the corporate world.”
She said: “I guess I was unusual as I found it relatively easy to find temporary work – China always needs English speaking teachers”
The Careers Service missive advises college chiefs that, while there will be a “slight increase” in the number of law vacancies, those students seeking jobs in the arts, creative or heritage sectors must rely on “networking” to secure roles that are by their nature “sporadic” and “off-cycle”.
The memo seeks to reassure senior fellows that, despite the recent figures, the Career Service in fact advertised 9 per cent more vacancies in 2013 than in 2012, bringing the total to over 6,700 full and part time opportunities. The pool of potential candidates leaving Oxford each year contains only around 3,000 undergraduates or postgraduates.
The relatively poor graduate employment prospects helped to force Oxford behind Cambridge in the Times’ university league table. Out of a maximum composite score of 1,000, which is made up of eight categories including student satisfaction and student-staff ratio, Oxford managed 999.
Cambridge, meanwhile, achieved full marks. In the previous year’s Guide, the order of the universities was reversed, with Oxford clinching the top spot.