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Report challenges claims on graduate oversupply

Graduates from behind
A report published today from Universities UK challenges the idea that there is an oversupply of graduates.

The new analysis finds there is currently an undersupply of graduates that will continue into the foreseeable future. The report also highlights the fact that there is no one definition of a ‘graduate job’.

One of the problems identified in the report is how some graduates may find themselves in ‘mismatched’ roles and that there needs to be a better understanding of why this happens and how it can be prevented.


Some of the report’s main findings include:

  • Projecting to 2022, under most models, there will be an undersupply of graduates, relative to the number of jobs demanding them
  • There will also be unmet demand for workers with higher, but not necessarily degree-level, qualifications, such as HNDs (Higher Education Diplomas)
  • There is no widely agreed-upon definition of a ‘graduate job’
  • There must be greater discussion between universities and employers about ‘employability skills’
  • There will be a need for greater collaboration between further and higher education to develop workers with higher level skills
  • In spite of a strong supply of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) students, there are continued shortages of highly-qualified workers in technical industries
Nicola Dandridge, Chief Executive of Universities UK, said: “Our analysis finds little evidence of a graduate oversupply, but rather evidence that our economy is going to require an even greater number of higher qualified workers.

“It is important to highlight the life-changing effect that a university education can have and the range of relevant skills and experiences graduates acquire as part of their degrees. Universities are working harder than ever to ensure that graduates in every discipline pick up a diverse range of skills useful to employers. These include skills such as problem-solving, critical analysis, team working and entrepreneurial skills. There can, however, be a lack of understanding of these skills when it comes to employment. This underlines the need for employers to work in collaboration with universities and colleges in the process of developing ‘work ready’ graduates.

“The report looks also at how certain graduates may end up in ‘mismatched’, non-graduate jobs and with lower average earnings than their ‘matched’ graduate counterparts. There needs to be a better understanding of why certain graduates become mismatched, which skills could prevent this and where they can be best attained.”

Key Contacts

Gareth Morgan

Gareth Morgan

Media Relations Manager
Universities UK

Clara Plackett

Clara Plackett

Press and Social Media Officer
Universities UK

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