There are many surveys that show a significant minority of graduates now fail to get "graduate" jobs. A survey by the National Institute of Economic and Social Research (NIESR) suggested that it was as high as a third.
Many graduates can find themselves in the unhappy position of being trapped between the need for a job - any job - and dealing with potential employers who are reluctant to recruit them because they regard them as over-qualified.
Subject choice is crucial. Other things being equal, the rates of return to maths and computing, engineering and technological subjects and medicine (the "hard" subjects) are, unsurprisingly, robustly positive. Other choices are less remunerative and, in the case of arts degrees for men and after allowing for the new £3,000 level of tuition fees, the calculated average rate of return is actually negative.
The Swansea study also confirmed that the university's reputation and the level of achievement were also relevant factors with the highest ability graduates still performing as well as the previous generation of high achievers.
It is clear from this research that high-flyers who opt for "hard" subjects are continuing to benefit financially from studying for a degree. For the less able graduates, especially those who opt for "soft" subjects, it is highly questionable. Indeed they could be well out of pocket.
None of these findings comes as a surprise. They are only to be expected. Many young graduates will face disillusionment as they find the Government's promises of £400,000 extra earnings vanish into the sand.
It is time for honesty. It is time, too, to drop the obsession with the ludicrous 50pc HE target, which insidiously implies that non-HE professional and vocational training routes are a poor option, with low esteem. The economy does not need more media studies graduates, it needs more plumbers.As someone who graduated from a top university in a "hard" subject I have undoubtedly benefited from my 3 years at university and I have even used some of the things I learned in my degree subject in the real world (not a lot I admit but now and again). But in that respect I am no doubt both fortunate and being rewarded for the effort I put in to get into a top university (as well as the effort put in to work while there). I have noticed that, in general, those of us with challenging degrees tend to show more respect for car mechanics, builders, plumbers etc. than we do for the liberal arts graduates.