State school students underrepresented in top UK graduate schemes, report finds

Posted on: 2018-09-24 14:00:00

Only 57 per cent of graduates hired by companies had a state-school education – compared to 91 per cent across the population
Only 57 per cent of graduates hired by companies had a state-school education – compared to 91 per cent across the population ( PA )

Young people educated in state schools are underrepresented in Britain’s top graduate schemes, according to a new report.

Only 57 per cent of graduates hired by companies had a state-school education – compared to 91 per cent across the population, according to a survey from the Institute of Student Employers (ISE).

A poll of employers, including those from the law, banking, professional and financial services, found that the leading graduate jobs in the country were still dominated by the privately educated

Businesses hired more graduates, apprentices and interns this year – but much more still needs to be done to improve diversity, the ISE warned.

“People who attended state schools, women, first generation graduates and disabled people are all underrepresented on graduate programmes,” the ISE student recruitment survey says. 

Improving diversity was a significant priority for nearly all of the 138 employers surveyed, from 17 sectors. They had recruited 32,202 young people. 

However, 58 per cent of employers focused their recruitment attentions on institutions which their company has historic links with – and 17 per cent said they focused on university rankings.

In total, 12 per cent focused on Russell Group universities for recruitment, making it more likely that they will continue to recruit more advantaged students, the ISE said.

“Many of the differences in career outcomes between different groups of students can be explained by the overrepresentation of privately educated and other advantaged students at high status institutions,” the report stated.

But most employers said they were improving their marketing activities (77 per cent) and recruitment and selection processes (67 per cent) to address concerns about diversity. 

These included using name-blind or university-blind recruitment, changing the universities they visit, and offering financial support for candidates to travel to selection events.

Stephen Isherwood, chief executive of the ISE, said: “Employers are taking some serious action to improve the diversity of their workforce and there is a high level of concern, particularly as graduates from state schools are potentially being locked out of some of the best career options.

“We must find the means to recruit the talent that exists within the breadth of the student body. “This means changing the nature of recruitment and selection processes and putting less focus on Russell Group institutions or those that companies have historic links with.

“It is important to look at the wider social obstacles too. We can’t expect businesses to shoulder the full responsibility for an unequal society.”

Eleanor Busby, Education Correspondent 

Source: Independent

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