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Graduate salaries to rise, following three-year stagnation, finds AGR

The average starting salary for graduates is set to rise higher by 6% following a ‘salary standstill’, according to the Association of Graduate Recruiters (AGR), which published the summer edition of its bi-annual survey this morning.

In the winter edition of its bi-annual survey, AGR members had predicted a 4% increase in graduate salary, to £26,000.

Data in the summer edition reveals an even more positive picture, as recruiters exceeded their estimate and indicated an expected increase of 6%, to £26,500. This follows three consecutive years of salary standstill from 2009-2011.

The survey found further positive news for graduates, as vacancies for are predicted to dip by a marginal 0.6%. This follows a previous predication of 1.2% for the same period, demonstrating a gradual return to stability in the graduate jobs market.

Carl Gilleard, chief executive of the AGR, said: "It is reassuring to see employers are investing in graduate talent. The significant rise in starting salaries to £26,500 will be very good news indeed to students, who are bracing themselves to take on higher levels of debt as tuition fees rise to £9,000 from September this year."

The survey also shows that there are fewer applications per place this year, decreasing to an average of 73 per vacancy following an unprecedented high of 83 applications per vacancy last year. Respondents noted that the quality of applications had increased, suggesting that graduates are taking their time to be more selective and thorough in their applications.

Gilleard added: "While graduate recruitment and development programmes are part of employers' long-term strategy, the graduate job market is inextricably linked to business confidence. With the continuing uncertainty in the Eurozone, it is encouraging to see that employers are still talent-planning for the future and that the number of graduate vacancies is remaining constant.

"Naturally, businesses will be thinking carefully about where best to invest, and I would argue that, where graduate schemes are concerned, you really do get out what you put in. Businesses that create a programme which goes beyond mere training, and gives graduates the opportunity to engage in a meaningful, hands-on way with the organisation will find that they are rewarded with enthusiasm and long-term commitment by well-selected graduates."

A 2:1 degree classification remains the most common selection criteria used by graduate recruiters, with 76% using it as minimum entry standard for the graduates they recruit. This has increased from 73% last year.