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More graduates are achieving first and 2:1 grades.

Seven in 10 university students now leave university with a 2:1, recent figures show, the proportion of those achieving a 2:1 having increased by 163 percent over the last decade. Further, one in five graduates are achieving firsts – up by 10,000 on 2013.

Critics have blamed the 2012 jump in fees (to £9,000 per year) for the surge, suggesting that university tutors may be under pressure to award inflated grades. The higher financial commitment could just be pushing students to work harder though – a view held by Universities UK.

The graduate recruitment headache

With the Symposium Graduate Recruitment and Development Forum coming up, it’s worth asking what the surge in 2:1 grades means for employers looking to recruit the best. Many graduate scheme applications stipulate that applicants must hold a first or upper-second class degree to progress to the interview stage. Will employers be driven to scrutinise individual applicants’ grade breakdowns or ask for overall percentage grades?

With top graduate schemes attracting thousands of applicants every year, it’s crucial that HR departments filter hopefuls efficiently. Many major graduate recruiters, such as Barclays, Boots and Google (all of which will feature at the upcoming Grad/Rec Forum), put candidates through their own tests to measure talent. 

James Marsh, HR Manager, Symposium Events said:

“With degrees becoming less and less of a differentiator, the graduate recruitment challenge is as hard as it has ever been for employers. Organisations are now looking to even more complex and comprehensive assessment processes of their own to make sure they are bringing in the right talent.”

How do you deal with graduate recruitment challenges? Let us know in the comments.