graduateA new survey shows that graduates can look forward to higher starting salaries this year, contradicting previous expectations of salary rises.

Employers surveyed in the Association of Graduate Recruiters’ (AGR) bi-annual report earlier this year said they expected a four percent increase in average starting salaries, taking them up to £26,000 per annum. However, the report released today shows that the average starting salary has actually gone up further than anticipated, to £26,500 a year. Graduate starting salaries had been a source of concern as they have been fairly stagnant in recent years, remaining at around the same level since 2009.

The statistics in the report are encouraging, and suggest that the graduate jobs market is recovering and improving. Prospective students will be particularly pleased, as they will now be looking at taking on higher levels of debt – up to £9,000 per year – in order to go to university.

The survey also showed that the quality of graduate applications had increased, and that competition had fallen slightly – down to 73 applications per vacancy, from an all-time high of 83 applications per vacancy last year. Vacancies available to graduates will dip a marginal 0.6 percent, according to recruiters, which also beat expectations that it would drop by twice as much.

Carl Gilleard, Chief Executive of the AGR, said: “It is reassuring to see that employers are investing in graduate talent. 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.”