The data below tell us a lot about the deteriorating post-degree situation of average graduates. Coming from The Guardian, it shows a pattern of increasing difficulties, with average debt increasing and average long-term unemployment increasing. Government policy, which has allowed university fees to increase while believing that the private sector should take care of job creation, is unlikely to improve this situation in the short term.
'The data tells us that life is tough. The graduates of 2012 - all half a million of them in the UK - will leave university and move into arguably the most competitive jobs market ever. Saddled with debt, many of their qualifications undervalued and in a time of austerity, the data tells a bleak story. But does this fit with your experience? As we build a graduate profile from the stats, we want to hear from recent graduates about whether they think the numbers give a fair portrayal of reality.
The typical graduate owes £16,141
The graduate of 2012 is saddled with £16,141 of debt from student loans - up 6% on last year's cohort. Interest charges may be low compared to market rates and don't kick in until after graduation, but their impact on repayments is impossible to ignore.
Even among those lucky enough to go straight into a job and begin the process of paying back what they owe, total debt will actually increase every year until their annual salary reaches approximately ££18,550 (before tax).
Average graduate debt through student loans alone has risen every year.
...has studied an arts-based degree
Where students' post-graduation destination was known, the most popular courses were in the creative arts, followed by business studies. Unfortunately, arts graduates are also the lowest paid.
Of all full-time degree types, the lowest employment rate was for students on foundation degree courses, where just 30% found a job within six months of graduation.
Postgraduate certificate in education (PGCE) graduates - trainee teachers - fare best. Almost nine out of ten PGCE students had jobs within six months of graduation.
Other postgraduate studies also tend to increase employability, with two out of three leavers across these courses finding work within six months.
...has a one in five chance of long term unemployment
At the end of 2011 18.9% of those graduating in the previous two years were unemployed, down from the high of 20.7% at the beginning of 2010 but more than four times the rate for those graduating between four and six years ago.
Graduates are also having to settle for low-skilled jobs more frequently than used to be the case. In the last quarter of 2011 more than one in three of those graduating in the last six years and finding work were in low-skilled roles. In 2001 this figure was almost 10% lower.
Nevertheless, unemployment among recent graduates remains much higher than among non-graduates. The employment rate of people graduating in the last six years is 85.5%, compared to 73.3% for non-graduates.
...will earn £15.18 per hour (if they're lucky enough to get a job)
Today's graduate who finds employment, earns, on average, £15.18 per hour. The typical non-graduate earns just over half as much - £8.92. Over a typical 40 hour week, this works out as a difference of £250.
Average hourly earnings also vary widely between graduates of different subjects. If a healthy salary is what you're after, it pays to take a science subject. The three highest paying subject areas, on average, are all sciences - topped, as you might expect, by medicine and dentistry (£21.29 per hour). At the other end of the scale, arts graduates typically take home £12.06 per hour and humanities £14.63.
...but will wait three months for employment.
The latest stats show that it takes UK graduates an average of three months to find their first job after leaving education. For those who leave school at 18 and don't go to university it takes 10% longer, and for those leaving education at 16 the gap is more than six months.'