More than four-fifths of graduates state that they are concerned companies favour graduates from Russell Group universities over those who studied at non-Russell group institutions. 

Research from Milkround, a graduate jobs board site, found that 83 per cent of graduates feel that there is a bias towards alumni from Russell Group universities.

Furthermore, almost half (44 per cent) of those who have attended a non-Russell Group university report having to make frequent financial sacrifices.

Milkround states that these claims of bias may not be completely unfounded as whilst one in five (22 per cent) graduates from Russell Groups were yet to secure a full time job, this number increased to one in three (30 per cent) for non-Russell-Group graduates.

Additionally, according to the Department for Education, those attending Russell Group universities are much more likely to earn a higher salary than those who do not attend these institutions.

In order to remedy this problem, more than two-fifths (41 per cent) of graduates are proposing that employers should practice blind recruitment to create a diverse workforce and level the playing field. As well as 24 per cent of this group are also calling for all prerequisites to be removed from the recruiting process such as which university they attended.

To further improve diversity, 15 per cent of graduates recommend offering more opportunities to candidates in disadvantaged areas, 12 per cent state that candidates should be supported with travel costs to attend interviews and 8 per cent state that employers could help graduates to find affordable accommodation in close proximity to their new job.

Georgina Brazier, graduate jobs expert at Milkround, said:

Most graduates are left with the same level of debt or student loans (and same tuition fees) regardless of what university they attended. The investment students make to attend university and gain their degree is substantial and whilst academic success should be applauded, some graduates feel the return on investment when entering the workplace should be fairer. There’s no doubt that Russell Group graduates make for excellent employees but it’s integral that companies do not rule out the chance to recruit fantastic grads from other universities.

Blind recruitment is necessary if businesses want to attract talent from the widest talent pool possible, with an excitingly diverse set of skills and intellects, rather than blocking perfectly good candidates because of their university or socio-economic background. It’s something that can be implemented quickly and simply for most companies. Moreover, many companies have made huge strides in increasing diversity in their recruitment and change is on the horizon.

The best way to help graduates believe that firms can offer them a future whatever their background, is to break down communication with students and have face-to-face conversations by visiting universities around the country. This dialogue is key to easing the anxiety graduates may encounter before applying for jobs, plus encourage students from diverse backgrounds to apply to firms they may have previously viewed as having a challenging entry point.

In order to obtain this research, Milkround asked the opinion of 7,000 graduates between 29th April – 6th May 2019. Further research was conducted to a pool of 1,500 recent graduates between 11th – 13th August 2019.

Russel group universities include: the university of Birmingham, Bristol, Cambridge, Cardiff, Durham, Edinburgh, Exeter, Glasgow, Imperial, King’s College, Leeds, Liverpool, LSE, Manchester, Newcastle, Nottingham, Oxford, Queen Mary in London, Queen’s in Belfast, Sheffield, Southampton, UCL, Warwick and York.





Monica Sharma is an English Literature graduate from the University of Warwick. As Editor for HRreview, her particular interests in HR include issues concerning diversity, employment law and wellbeing in the workplace. Alongside this, she has written for student publications in both England and Canada. Monica has also presented her academic work concerning the relationship between legal systems, sexual harassment and racism at a university conference at the University of Western Ontario, Canada.