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Top graduates get jobs as shelf-stackers

STUDENTS at Britain’s leading universities are having to take jobs as shop assistants and shelf stackers when they finally get their degrees.

Super-bright graduates on more than 20 courses in elite institutions are struggling to find the professional positions they expected.

Many of these talented students achieved straight As in their A Levels and GCSEs just to get a place. Normally they could have walked into a top job on a big salary.

But the recession means many are having to take menial jobs on low wages to get by.

Our investigation looked at prospects for students on every course at the top-rated universities after Oxford and Cambridge, including Durham, Warwick, Bristol, York and St Andrews in Scotland.

We examined hundreds of pages of figures compiled by the Higher Education Statistics Agency.

Each year they ask graduates how they are doing six months after their courses finish.

We discovered 21 courses where the first or second job they were most likely to get was "Sales Assistant or Retail Cashier".

Talented graduates are spending their days stacking shelves, manning the tills and pushing trolleys as in the examples in our graphic below.

Our figures do not include students taking gap years to travel.

Mike Barnard of recruitment website claims even the brightest have never had it so tough. He said: "This year’s finalists may be up against 2008 and 2009 graduates who will have had up to two years to gain experience or additional qualifications that will put them ahead."

Beth Dickson, 23, left York two years ago after studying Linguistics and spent a year in retail before finding a top job as a Junior Account Manager. She said: "The first year was really tough. Then I spent a year working in America to boost my CV. I hope things improve for the next intake."

Universities minister David Willetts believes long-term prospects for graduates are still good. He said: "The job market does remain competitive for new graduates in these difficult economic times. However, a degree is a good investment in the long term."



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