Stuart Gentle Publisher at Onrec

Grad salaries soar as employers jostle for talent

The Class of 2022 need not fear a downturn in the jobs market. Despite the high profile layoffs and crypto crash, job opportunities for graduates have grown strongly year-on-year and pay rates on offer are rising

  • 14,690 graduate job vacancies on offer across UK in May, up +59% year-on-year, as employers tap university leavers to plug staff gaps
  • Advertised graduate salaries rise 7% year-on-year to hit a six year high of £26,076
  • Over 36 graduates will compete for every job in the UK this summer
  • Employers offering pay of up to £70,000 for grads; Top companies hiring include Big Four, retailers Aldi and Lidl, and TeachFirst
  • Top 5 institutions by graduate earnings: Bayes Business School, Oxford, Imperial College, Cambridge, and UCL, all seeing grads earn £40k+ after 5 years

The Class of 2022 need not fear a downturn in the jobs market. Despite the high profile layoffs and crypto crash, job opportunities for graduates have grown strongly year-on-year and pay rates on offer are rising, according to new research from smarter job search engine Adzuna

May 2022 saw 14,690 graduate job vacancies advertised across the UK, +59% higher than 9,265 this time last year, as employers tap up new graduates to plug gaps in their workforces.

In a bid to attract talent, pay rates are also rising. Advertised salaries on offer for graduate openings have climbed to £26,076 in May 2022, up 7% year-on-year from £24,389. It marks a six year high in advertised salaries for graduates. Furthermore, in the most competitive sectors, pay rates have hit new heights, with salaries of up to £70,000 on offer.

Graph 1: Graduate job vacancies and advertised salaries since 2020*

*Full data set available upon request

However, competition for grad jobs remains hot. With around 540,000 UK students set to graduate this year according to figures from HESA, more than 36 graduates will be vying for every available opportunity in summer 2022.

Paul Lewis, chief customer officer at job search engine Adzuna, comments: "This is the strongest jobs market we’ve seen for graduates post-pandemic. Despite the negative headlines, plenty of sectors remain desperate for talent and looking to grads to fill those gaps. They’re well paid positions, too - with advertised salaries for graduate roles hitting a six year high and some sectors offering pay cheques up to £70k. It’s a welcome piece of good news for the Class of 2022, who battled remote learning and pandemic pressures over the last two years.”

10 of the top graduate employers hiring now, include:

Inflation busting graduate pay rates on offer

Crucially for grads concerned about the cost of living crisis being driven by high inflation, many employers have been raising the pay rates they offer.

In the law sector, European firms are struggling to keep up with their American counterparts. US legal firm Davis Polk & Wardwell has bumped up salaries for newly qualified solicitors (NQs) by 8.5% from £147,500 to £160,000, while its graduates earn £60,000. By comparison, Magic Circle firm Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer is offering grads £50,000 in their first year, with NQs earning £125,000.

The same is true in banking, with Barclays offering their grads £50k, RBS £31,850, compared to JP Morgan at up to £70,000.

Other employers offering lucrative options include MI5 (starting salaries of £33,000) and BP at £35,000 - £45,000.

The most valuable grads in the UK

Adzuna also dug into which university graduates receive the highest compensation five years after graduation, based on an analysis of over 120,000 UK jobseeker CVs uploaded to Adzuna's ValueMyCV between 2019 and 2022. Text mining technology was used to look at the career pathways taken by recent grads, and the jobs they are working in 5 years after graduation, revealing average earnings across different institutions.

Oxford and Imperial are beating Cambridge University in terms of leavers’ earnings, with University of Oxford grads bringing in an average salary of £47,618 five years after graduation, compared to £45,741 for Imperial College grads and £44,190 for University of Cambridge grads. Oxford is second only to Bayes Business School leavers, formerly known as Cass Business School but renamed in September 2021 due to links with slavery.

The lowest earning grads meanwhile, studied at Aberystwyth University (£25,129), Bath Spa (£25,196) and Edge Hill (£25,334).

Paul Lewis continues: “The choice of university can massively impact earning potential, with students from the most prestigious institutions raking in over £20k more a year on average five years post graduation, compared to grads from lesser-known places of learning. For those wanting to earn big, London universities are good bets with grads from Imperial College, UCL, and King’s all top earners five years into their careers. Russell Group institutions also dominate the list, showing when it comes to earnings, the stamp of approval from a prestigious academic institution can still make all the difference.”

Table 1: Graduate salaries, by institution


Average salary, 5 years after graduation

Bayes Business School (formerly Cass)


University of Oxford


Imperial College


University of Cambridge


University College London


Cranfield University


Durham University


University of Nottingham


University of Edinburgh


University of Reading


King's College London


University of Strathclyde


University of Bath


University of Manchester


Robert Gordon University


University of Warwick


University of Huddersfield


University of Southampton


London School of Economics and Political Science


Birkbeck, University of London


Loughborough University


University of Bristol


City University


Kingston University


Queen Mary University of London


University of Aberdeen


University of Leicester


Brunel University


University of London


Lancaster University


University of York


University of Exeter


University of Bolton


Aston University


Cardiff University


Oxford Brookes University


Heriot-Watt University


London Metropolitan University


University of Brighton


University of Hertfordshire


University of West London


University of Sussex


Royal Holloway, University of London


University of The West of England


University of Stirling


University of Surrey


Cardiff Metropolitan University


University of Glasgow


University of East London


University of Bedfordshire


University of Birmingham


Newcastle University


University of Liverpool


University of Dundee


Plymouth University


University of Hull


University of Bradford


The Open University


De Montfort University


University of Westminster


Bournemouth University


University of Plymouth


BPP University


University of Portsmouth


University of Leeds


Swansea University


University of Greenwich


University of East Anglia


Northumbria University


University of Kent


Birmingham City University


Middlesex University


Anglia Ruskin University


Edinburgh Napier University


University of Sheffield


Glasgow Caledonian University


University of Essex


Coventry University


University for the Creative Arts


University of Law


London South Bank University


University of Derby


Sheffield Hallam University


University of Central Lancashire


University Of The Arts


Nottingham Trent University


Teesside University


University of Salford


University of Lincoln


Southampton Solent University


University of Wolverhampton


University of Chester


Staffordshire University


Manchester Metropolitan University


Canterbury Christ Church University


University of Roehampton


University of Sunderland


Keele University


University of South Wales


Buckinghamshire New University


Leeds Beckett University


University of Northampton


Ulster University


Goldsmiths, University of London


Bangor University


Liverpool John Moores University


Azad University


Edge Hill University


Bath Spa University


Aberystwyth University