The starting salary and international opportunities enjoyed by graduate engineers are among the best in today's job market although students in other faculties have reported far less satisfaction.
A recent UK survey by consumer watchdog Which? and the Higher Education Policy Institute (Hepi) heightened the debate about value for money, suggesting student expectations of higher education have risen as tuition fees have increased.
Of the 17,000 students polled across the UK, 29% of first-year students said their courses were not good value for money, compared to 16% last time the study was carried out in 2006, when fees were just more than £1,000 a year.
According to The Guardian newspaper, course selection a generation ago may have been weighted more towards academic and social experience for students. But future job prospects and earning potential are now making the decision much more mercenary. In this respect, careers in engineering have become more attractive.
In the US, the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) publish data three times a year on college graduate starting salaries. Engineering dominates the list, taking seven of the top ten spots in NACE’s April survey: petroleum engineers earned the most with an average starting salary of $93,500 (£61,271); second were computer engineers with $71,700 (£46,985); chemical engineering graduates – with a healthy starting salary of $67,600 (£44,298) – came in third.
In the UK, engineering graduates can enjoy similar pay packets. Data published in 2010 indicated UK graduate starting salaries for dentistry and medicine were ranked first and second at £29,805 and £28,913. Chemical engineering was ranked fourth with three more engineering disciplines placed in the top ten.
However, the total number of graduates from all courses competing for each graduate job this year has risen over 50% from last year in some sectors, with FMCG the most oversubscribed sector by far.
This is one of the findings of the Graduate Recruitment Survey 2013 from the Association of Graduate Recruiters (AGR), released on Wednesday (10 July), of AGR’s 209 members.
The number of applicants to FMCG company graduate schemes rose from 134.1 in 2011-12 to 211 in the current 2012-13 academic year.
The second most popular grad schemes were those in investment banks and fund management firms, with 135.3 people going for each post, followed by retail (130.2) and banking and financial services, whose 114.7 applicants per post was up from 78.6 last year.