Firms favour older universities
The survey of 257 large companies shows that the longer established universities - but not always Oxford and Cambridge - have the strongest hold on employers' affections, while the former polytechnics still have a long way to go. Only one, Nottingham Trent, appears among the employers' top 10, in the area of construction and civil engineering.
The independent survey by the Performance Indicator Project covers 10 subject areas: engineering and technology, construction and civil engineering, languages, law, electrical engineering, sciences, computing, business, finance or accountancy and banking, and economics and social sciences. Employers were asked which universities they rated above or below average in producing good applicants in the individual subjects.
In engineering and technology, which accounts for nearly one-quarter of the recruits in the survey, UMIST was followed by London's Imperial College of Science and Technology, just ahead of Loughborough and then Cambridge. Bath was in fifth place, with Manchester, Nottingham, Leeds, Sheffield and Strathclyde close behind. The highest rated former polytechnic was Hertfordshire, in 13th place.
Employers said degree class was the most important factor affecting their choice of recruit in engineering and technology, ahead of factors like A- level and GCSE results.
In science, Cambridge rates highest with employers, followed by Imperial and then UMIST, Bristol and Oxford. But Oxford comes top of the league in its traditionally strong field of law, where Cambridge rates second.
The former polytechnics do especially badly in sciences, the best being De Montfort and Manchester Metropolitan, who share 43rd place. But they do better in business, where Sheffield Hallam comes 16th, and in languages, where Oxford Brookes comes 19th.
The London School of Economics is the employers' first choice in finance, accountancy and banking, followed by Edinburgh, Manchester, Warwick and Kent.
In the employers' view, the most improved university was York, which had risen in almost every subject area since 1994. This new survey combines the results for 1995 and 1996 to improve the reliability of the findings.
Signposts to Employability (PIP Graduate Recruiters' Survey 1996) is available, price Pounds 24, from the Performance Indicator Project, Harlaxton College, Grantham, Lincolnshire, NG32 1AG.