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Private school students are being overrepresented in the top graduate schemes


By Simon Thompson
 
     
By Elizabeth Whittingham

‘we must find the means to recruit the talent that exists within the breadth of the student body’

According to a study by the Independent, state school students, women, first generation graduates and disabled people, are all massively underrepresented in the top graduate schemes in the country, with many companies favouring students who were privately educated before heading to university.

91 per cent of all educated pupils across the UK attend state schools; however, only 57 per cent of these are hired into graduate schemes, according to the Institute of Student Employers.

An extensive poll on employers has found that across all sectors, including banking, law, financial and professional services, graduate jobs are still being dominated by the privately educated, a number that only make up 9 per cent of all pupils in education currently.

The Institute of Student Employers is now calling for much more diversity among employment for graduate schemes, warning that the majority are being treated like the minority and in many cases- simply being ignored; ‘People who attended state schools, women, first generation graduates and disabled people are all underrepresented on graduate programmes’.

According to the study, out of the 138 employers over 17 sectors, recruiting 32,202 young people into jobs- 58 per cent apparently focused their attention onto institutions with which the business held personal, historic or family links with, only 17 per cent said they looked at the achievements of the university, whilst just 12 per cent focused on Russell Group universities.

In the report’s findings, it was clear that the privately educated are being over represented among graduate schemes, with the prestigious and financial label of their school playing a key role in bagging them a good job after graduation.

In light of these concerning statistics, graduate schemes are now claiming that they are adapting their approach in order to make their placements more accessible.

According to the Independent, some employers are now using name-blind or university-blind recruitment as well as supplying financial support for candidates to travel to the location of interviews and recruitment events.

According to the chief executive of the Institute of Student Employers, graduate schemes are now being marketed to all in a bid to make the system more inclusive; ‘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.’

Despite these recent promises, it appears that little has been done over the past decade to curb the problem of under representation within graduate schemes.

Back in 2011, an article was published in the Telegraph detailing the same issue unearthed by Michael Gove in the wake of the drastically unequal UK education system. Amid claims of private school saturation of graduate schemes, Gove claimed that the UK had definitely taken a step backwards as opposed to forwards when it came to allowing pupils and graduates from all walks of life a fair opportunity for employment. Gove also went on to criticise top journalism jobs, with over 50 per cent of them dominated by Oxbridge graduates, although they only make up 1 per cent of the population.

Seven years on, it seems the issue is still prevalent.

Just 40 out of 80,000 students eligible for free student meals go to Oxford despite evidence that state school kids actually come out with higher degrees and better grades from school than privately educated pupils!

The same statistic follows through to occupations. Although just seven per cent of the population attend private school, privately educated graduates make up one third of MPs currently in Parliament, whilst a whopping 74 per cent of judges working in the high court attended private school, using the label to jump into graduate law schemes straight from university. In medicine, 61 percent of doctors and graduates went to private school.

According to a recent report by the Tab, privately educated pupils are ten times more likely to get into the top universities and hence into the best graduate jobs than state school educated pupils with the exact same grades.

Although schools do stand as engines of social mobility, which, if used correctly, can be utilised to climb through the rankings and up to the graduate schemes, it appears that the privately educated are working to eradicate all of this hard work.

According to Alan Milburn, chair of the social mobility commission, the report highlights the stark issues occurring right now when it comes to class, mobility and education; ‘This report underlines how those from less privileged families are too often shut out from Britain’s top jobs.’

Despite this concern, Milburn did also comment that when organisations did commit to fairness across the board, changes can be noted, it simply needs to happen more.

 
 
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