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Graduate salaries expected to rise this year as vacancies drop, according to AGR

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Graduate starting salaries are predicted to rise this year after stagnation, according to the Association of Graduate Recruiters (AGR), which today publishes the winter edition of its bi-annual survey.

The average starting salary for a graduate is predicted to increase by 4% to £26,000 this year.

It had remained at £25,000 since 2009. Between 2006 and 2008, salaries increased by an average of 2% a year. This predicted rise is the largest since 2005, when starting salaries increased by 7%.

The survey also shows that the number of graduate vacancies increased last year by 1.7%, whilst this year vacancies are predicted to drop by 1.2%.

The survey also explores recruitment marketing activities and found that nearly all recruiting employers (96%) are planning to use online promotions, such as social media, job boards and company websites, to target students. Despite this, the vast majority (89%) are still planning to visit universities and be on campus.

Carl Gilleard, chief executive of the AGR, said: "The predicted increase to graduate salaries is significant and sizeable, particularly given the context of starting salaries remaining stagnant for the past three years. This will no doubt be welcome news to the Government and the higher education sector, but moreover to graduates themselves.

"The findings show that the market is predicted to remain relatively stable, which is a relief and should be seen as good news against an uncertain national, European and global economy. With the job market intrinsically linked to business confidence, I am cautiously optimistic for graduate recruitment in 2012 and it is encouraging to see that only a slight drop is predicted."

A number of key issues for graduate recruiters were also explored in the survey, including their attitudes to two year degree programmes. This condenses the academic content of a standard three year degree into two years of study, and has been introduced by several universities this academic year.

The AGR survey is based on the responses of 214 AGR members in the UK across 20 sectors, which recruited 21,325 graduates in 2011.

The research was carried out by education research firm CFE in November 2011.