Over half of recent UK graduates are in nongraduate level jobs, according to research released over the summer by the Chartered Institute of Personel and Development (CIPD). This reinforces the difficulties student face in finding well-paying work and forcing students to question whether university is worth the hefty financial investment.

According to the CIPD, 58.8% of UK graduates are in jobs deemed to be nongraduate roles, with the research suggesting that this mismatch between qualifications and work is a result of a failure to create sufficient high-skilled jobs for its increasing proportion of graduates. They argue this means money invested in higher education is wasted, while young people are stuck with sky high debt.

The research shows that the UK has the second highest prevalence of the issue in Europe, trailing behind Iceland. It concludes that the growth of graduates is “significantly outstripping the growth of high-skilled jobs generated by the labour market” in most OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) countries. However, it adds the trend is “particularly pronounced in the UK”.

The CIPD said the findings raised urgent questions over getting better value out of the UK’s education system, raising the profile of alternatives to a degree such as apprenticeships, and how employers invest in further training.

The report’s findings emerge as UK universities are about to enrol a record number of graduates this autumn, following the government’s decision to lift the cap on the number of students universities can recruit. This is potentially a big issue for students at UEA, where the university has seen an almost 30% increase in the number of first years enrolling at UEA this year.

Lloyd Peet, a second year Politics student, was concerned by the news. He said “to be spending £27,000 on a degree which should be a guarantee for my future, and to hear news like this, where it seems like my degree could be a waste of time and money, is really disappointing. If the government continue to remove caps on student numbers, then they need to be actively trying to create graduate level jobs.”

However, Isaac Scoulding, a second year English student, disagrees “there are enough opportunities out there for students. It’s up to you make the most of your time at UEA so you can compete in a job market. Even so, starting in lower skilled jobs and working your way up is no bad thing. And all that aside, university is about the experience as much as anything else”.