It’s hard not to feel a little bit sorry for freshers who have packed their red-spotted handkerchiefs and embarked on the biggest journey of their lives to date – and are paying £9,000 a year for the privilege.
However, many graduates will also feel a degree of relief that they managed to get through their degrees before the tuition fee hike kicked in. Perceptive graduates may even be feeling rather smug, because the rise in fees means there will be less competition in the jobs market...right?
While opinion on this subject is somewhat split, the answer actually seems to be swaying more towards the negative – which is not great news for graduates.
The number of people applying to university has dropped sharply by 8.9% over the past year, says UCAS, which is the culprit (or fairy godmother?) behind a resulting fall in job applicants, according to an employee at the Nottingham University Careers and Employability Service.
Stephen McAuliffe has noticed a clear drop in the number of people applying for jobs: "This time last year you would expect to have 70 graduates competing for a single job. Today that's reduced to around 60."
However, according to others, graduate internships
and job prospects will only improve in the long term if the number of job applicants continues to drop. Although this might seem likely with lofty fees and a consequential drop in university applicants, chief executive of Universities UK, Nicola Dandridge, thinks this is unlikely to occur.
In a BBC interview earlier this year she said: "If we look at how the dip worked in 2006, which is when tuition fees were originally introduced, they did recover in subsequent years."
Mr McAuliffe also said that even by the end of their recruitment cycle, some top corporations are left with hundreds of vacancies because they can’t find the perfect graduate.
"Literally thousands apply for these positions. But the employers are looking for that difference; they're looking for someone who has been involved in sports and societies, who are confident they can work in a team, who has done work with charities and within the local community," he explained.
In summary, firms are not prepared to lower their standards – regardless of the level of competition. In addition to this, the recession means that many seasoned professionals have also slipped back into the jobs market, upping the competition even more.