Graduates expect to earn £28,362 in their first job after university

Jake Cordell
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Graduates are aiming for the sky with salary expectations jumping 37 per cent in five years
Graduates are aiming for the sky with salary expectations jumping 37 per cent in five years (Source: Getty)

As the class of 2016 polish off finals and prepare for graduation, eyes will turn to the prize - that lucrative and hard-earned first foray into the world of work.

And this year's graduates - the second cohort to have paid £9,000 a year in tuition fees - are expecting some rather handsome pay packets to come their way when they sign on the dotted line of a highly-prized grad scheme contract.

Salary expectations among new graduates have surged by 37 per cent over the last five years, according to recruitment website, as students increasing feel they should be getting more bang for their buck.

Despite that, graduates - overall - aren't pricing themselves out of the market. The average salary expectation is £28,362, only 1.4 per cent higher than the actual starting salary of £27,966. Students are, very nearly at least, on the money when it comes to guessing their first wage.

Class of 2012 Class of 2016
Expectation £20,664 £28,362
Offered £25,357 £27,966
Difference 23 per cent Minus 1.4 per cent

Back in the early days of the recovery graduates were actually undervaluing themselves, with the class of 2012 expecting to scoop a job paying just £20,664 after university, nearly one-fifth down on the actual starting salaries offered to them of £25,357.

Read more: Can Google predict the UK unemployment rate?

Surprisingly, graduates in the capital don't strike it lucky when it comes to top spot on the salary league table - falling behind Liverpool and Reading. London does, however, have the most positions available for graduates.

City Graduate starting salary
Liverpool £33,967
Reading £30,225
London £30,002
Slough £28,878
Cambridge £27,499

However, some graduates are in for a big shock when they get their first job offer. New starters in IT think they'll be walking into a £37,000 a year job - 16 per cent above the actual average starting salaries.

Industry Salary expected Salary offered Difference
Accountancy £34,567 £50,466 46 per cent
Construction and property £29,850 £40,963 37 per cent
Consulting £31,321 £33,858 Eight per cent
Automotive £47,842 £32,034 Minus 31 per cent
IT and telecoms £37,151 £31,360 Minus 16 per cent
Financial services £26,045 £30,365 17 per cent

Accountants are in for the biggest balance sheet boost. They think they'll be earning £34,567, but actually secure roles paying in excess of £50,000.

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