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NUS President Criticises 'Old Boys Club' Recruitment

Aug 15 2007 22:02
Ashley Brown
The NUS President has criticised industry for favouring graduates from "so-called elite" universities.
Graduate Recruitment: Not just targeted at Imperial students!

A press release on graduate employment released by the National Union of Students has turned into an attack on the recruitment policies of the UK's businesses, which NUS President Gemma Tumelty branded as an "old boys club".

The release was issued in response to the publication by the annual "Destinations of Leavers from Higher Education" survey, which collects and collates information about the immediate destinations of graduates when they finish their courses. The survey resulted in the following revelation from the Higher Education Statistics Agency: "levels of unemployment vary by degree classification". It shows that while only 4.7% of new graduates with first class degrees are unemployed, this rises to 11.3% for those with thirds.

NUS President Gemma Tumelty was pleased that so many students were finding employment after graduation, but said the NUS remains concerned that graduates may not be finding jobs which meet their "aspirations and qualifications". She highlighted the problem of students saddled with high debts having to find any job available to improve their financial situation, rather than being able to wait for their ideal job to come along.

NUS calls on employers to look at graduates from the whole range of universities that exist across the UK, and not persist in recruiting, "old boys club" style, from a distinct, but also often distinctly privileged set of graduates from the so called elite universities.
NUS President, Gemma Tumelty

Tumelty continued, attacking the current process of graduate recruitment which she claimed resembled an "old boys club", taking graduates from "so-called elite universities" rather than from across the "whole range of universities" in the country. Her description of graduates from these universities as "distinctly privileged" is likely to cause controversy, particularly among those graduates who feel they are not especially privileged. Those forced to endure assessment after assessment when applying for jobs in the City are also likely to object to the implication they have an easier ride into their jobs than those from other universities.

The universities being referred to are not explicitly stated, however it is likely to be the research-intensive Russell Group which includes Imperial. Tumelty attended Liverpool John Moores University and graduated with a BSc (Hons) in Applied Psychology.

ICU President Stephen Brown was unhappy with the NUS statement, telling Live!:

"If the NUS have any evidence of any institution's undergraduates being hired en masse in anything but a fair and transparent manner then they should publish it. Why is the National President using her position to unfairly paint high achieving graduates as undeserving, by lazily perpetuating the myth that they somehow have benefited from a mysterious 'old boys club'?

"Gemma's statement does not reflect the reality of modern graduate recruitment methods ... If the NUS wants to be taken seriously then it needs to stop promoting the politics of grievance at every opportunity."

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Discussion about “NUS President Criticises 'Old Boys Club' Recruitment”

The comments below are unmoderated submissions by Live! readers. The Editor accepts no liability for their content, nor for any offence caused by them. Any complaints should be directed to the Editor.
1. Josh   
Aug 15 2007 23:22

Well said Steven!

Aug 16 2007 09:36

Are we gonna listen to someone who studied Psychology at uni?

3. James   
Aug 16 2007 09:54

Well said Steve!

Students who have worked hard to get into elite universities, gain decent grades, deserved to have the advantage when applying for jobs. This is simply a reflection of their abilities.

In my opinion, if anything, HR personnel should give even MORE credits to these so called ?elite? universities and their graduates!!!

Aug 16 2007 11:12

"Old Boys Club" best describes the recruitment process of the NUS, most SU's and the people who end up 'elected' to the NUS leadership. Charlatans

Aug 16 2007 11:48

These sorts of ridiculous, uninformed statements only serve to highlight what a ridiculous institution the NUS is - and why we should never have joined it!

Aug 16 2007 13:42

of course all students at so-called "elite universities" will claim that they deserve preferential treatment (see James' comment above), and all those who don't attend these institutions will see things otherwise.

however a few things need to be said...many students who get in to "elite universities" do so not through their marks, but rather their parents' donations etc. and exactly these students tend to have a walk through recruitment processes, such that the disproportion due to "elitism" is skewed.

in addition, there is really no reason to believe that a student who attended a higher ranked university than another student would be better equipped for a job which is not even tangential to his/her subject. believing that to be true is just arrogant. i did my undergrad at imperial, worked for a noteworthy bank and am now back to do a phd, the proportion of students coming from these "elite universities" who are terrible at their banking jobs but have arrived there in order to fill quotas is staggering. moreover, i am time and again impressed with those who do not leverage a useless degree they weren't even interested in from a top uni in order to get a job in a different area altogether.

also, and i think this is the underlying issue...why are metrics such as certain degree marks from certain universities used for job sectors such as banking (assuming this is what is on most people's minds)? obviously gaining a first in mathematics from cambridge means you're bright, but does it make you a great trader? the correlation is lower than any of you will ever acknowledge. this is a major fault of education in the uk, those who are interested in certain jobs have to pass through a higher education system to prove their "intelligence" or "diligence" to achieve these metrics, and those who are not interested in the jobs benefit from the same metrics and end up doing degrees which will never be used for anything. higher education is for those who want to do research, or gain a thorough understanding of a subject, not unambitious kids who are afraid to go into the real world without some padding and a magic piece of paper to access all areas.

Aug 16 2007 13:47

If you have evidence that people get into the top universities based on donations by their parents rather than on academic merit, I suggest you contact the Office for Fair Access.

What does help is when you have rich parents who can pay for you to go to good schools; that's a failure of the state education system though, not some sort of unfair discrimination by universities.

I went to a state comprehensive, I have friends who went to state comprehensives. Equally, I have friends who spent their whole time in private schools. Ultimately we all came out with the same degree classification and are doing different things. None of them walked into jobs, they all had to do several rounds of interviews to get the top-paid ones...

The discrimination might come in where recruiters target their advertisments, but I've seen investment banks advertise in publications which are sent to a wide variety of universities.

Aug 16 2007 13:48

Parents donations to whom? What a lot of hysterical rubbish.

Aug 16 2007 13:52

re: even more ridiculous

what planet do you live on??? grow up and see the world around you! when i did my masters in cambridge the guy across the hall was the son of a trade minister who never had to fill out any application for uni, the girl to the left was a concert violinist who also never applied but was asked to come to cambridge and the guy to the right was genuine smart.

guess what? i'm not the only guy with neighbours like that.

Aug 16 2007 13:55

re: engineer

obviously a great deal of people will follow the same track as you and your friends. the point that was made was that, if you do have the benefits, you benefit from them. end of story, no arguing it!

and having dated a recruiter shortly, they do care which institution you went to, and will very rarely consider applicants outside 5 or so universities in the uk unless they have some sort of amazing other credentials. fair enough to them, it's an easy way to filter, sucks if you didn't pay attention during a-levels.

Aug 16 2007 13:56

i love it how so many of you naive people masquerade around as if the world were a great and fair place!


Aug 16 2007 14:26

Comrade Ridiculous, won't you join me in turning seething jealousy of sucess into firey anger and calls to revolution! Come join RESPECK, we also beleive that our opinions are infalible facts that need no further appraisal.

The revolution is coming, brothers and sisters unite!

13. Rob   
Aug 16 2007 14:26

It sounds to me that there are a lot of people with a chip on their shoulder who want to blame something wrong in their life on other (more successful) people.

eg NUS president, 'ridiculous'

14. asdf   
Aug 16 2007 14:27

Most of the students at Imperial probably didn't pay attention during a-levels. They don't need to after 10 years of Nu-Lab dumbing down & grade inflation.

Aug 16 2007 14:27

Can we draw the distinction of what is meant by 'elite universities'. Oxbridge is a unique point (along with Med schools to a point) they are 'old boys clubs'. Other high and well renowned unis I don't think are like that at all.

16. James   
Aug 16 2007 14:46


For a start, if you are going to make personal comments, have the guts to at least leave you name and/or email.

I know stories of donations and family links, but they are in the minority surely. If not, Imperial would be endowed with billions like Harvard.

Ask yourself, why did you go to university? And why Imperial? If you worked hard at your job, you get rewarded. Different people ask for different rewards, financially or otherwise. Why should there be any difference for getting good grades and going to a decent university? And why should there be any difference for getting good degrees and jump starting your careers.

For all those entering universities, if there is no difference between the universities, why do people make different preferential choices. And surely, why would you want to go to university if not for differentiating yourself from those who did not attend?

By no means does going to "elite universities" mean that the person is better suited to the job. But one thing is for sure, the person have endured serious workload and have lasted the time. I cannot comment about any other university, but from my personal experience. I have worked EXTREMELY HARD before my exams, beyond most people's working hour. This shows at least 1 thing for sure... and that is I can take the pressure and get on with things and achieve good results.

I have worked hard for my degree and I want a decent job and living for that. I think it is damn rude for others to judge me for what I believe I deserve.

Aug 16 2007 15:00

As an aside to this, on Monday the National Executive Committee of the NUS voted to:

  • affiliate to the Stop the War coalition
  • show solidarity with the postal workers currently striking because they were told they didn't do enough work
Aug 16 2007 15:04

Is that because delivering mail is all that the majority of ex-NUS sabbaticals are qualified to do?

19. Rob   
Aug 16 2007 15:45

So let me get this right; they voted on two issues that have absolutely nothing to do with student life, and then the president ends up slagging off 'privileged students' from 'elite universities' which pay her salary?

the NUS doesn't have a clue what it is there for anymore. It's 30 years behind the times........

Aug 16 2007 16:43

For risk of sounding controversial...

I think there is a difference between students coming from the "elite" universities, and students at lower ranked universities, outside of their chosen profession.

I come from the south and have loads of friends from Bournemouth or Portsmouth uni's, and even from better ones such as Bristol, Bath or Southampton, and they're just plain not as sharp as students I know from Oxford or Imperial. I can genuinely believe that Imperial students would be better going into a job in which they have no experience than say an equal classed Bournemouth graduate.

Yes, I know there are exceptions, but i really believe this to be true, purely from first hand experience. "Better" uni's have the potential to, well, make you smarter in a broad sense, if you take advantage of the oppurtunity.

Aug 16 2007 16:58

who works for their degree? grade inflation isn't only a thing at a-levels...80% of oxbridge students get 2:1s or 1sts, 75% of imperialites (and that's only thanks to maths pulling us down)...if you DIDNT get a 1st either you were busy drinking or you just don't care!

Aug 16 2007 17:00

@better unis make you smarter

...i didn't realise there was a link between improvements in IQ tests and attending a "better" uni for 3 or 4 years...

try reading the bell curve for starters.

23. Alice   
Aug 16 2007 17:50

You may find there is little correlation between IQ tests and intelligence.

It is perfectly possible to teach yourself to improve at IQ tests.

Anyway, he wasn't saying elite universities teach students to be more intelligent, he was saying they; 'make you smart in a broad sense'.

Or did you not come to uni to learn?

Aug 16 2007 21:38

hey! the only reason 'maths is pulling us down' is because the maths department hasn't been dumbing down its exams.

ok that was irrelevent to the debate but it had to be said!

I think we're making too big a deal of this, does anyone think any employer will listen to the NUS? I doubt they will even hear about the presidents comments. They can keep passing pointless resolutions about postal workers and wars and we can keep on working hard on our degrees then getting a good job and working hard there. Each one to what he does best. They like the idea of debating irrelevancies and stroking their egos? fine. I like the idea that one day i can afford a porche and some implants for the missus!

25. @alice   
Aug 17 2007 11:20

the entire point of a good IQ test is that you do not improve much by practise. obviously you've never taken such a test before.

Aug 17 2007 11:21

maths student!:

i prefectly agree with you, at least some people at imperial are sane.

Aug 17 2007 11:31

maths student - but we'll be paying them about ?40,000 per year to give us a national voice. This is a voice that you think no-one will listen to and doesn't agree with what we believe.

Good value?

Aug 17 2007 13:54

If you include the 10 pounds for the extra card its really bad value! But I think we can't hold a referendum for leaving the NUS for 4 years now since we just had one. So we've got at least 4 more years of this. I don't see why we joined when from statements like these its seems obvious that we aren't welcome. The best we can do now is to try and use our membership to 'disband' as much of the useless NUS activity as possible, I believe they do provide IC with useful legal advice and training, but the rest, including their so called voice, is useless. Unions aren't what they used to be.

29. Hack   
Aug 17 2007 14:44

Not sure that we can't dis-affiliate this year if we don't want to - [|11.6.1].

30. Alice   
Aug 17 2007 14:53

Yes that is the point of IQ tests, but it doesn't work. You can always train yourself to perform better.

Aug 17 2007 17:24

Loving the new front page story

Aug 22 2007 12:34

Good to see that the NUS Pres is spending her time doing working for students:

Funny how things change when you aren't running for re-election isn't it?

33. hmm   
Aug 22 2007 16:55

Is it PC to have a NUS position titled 'NUS Black Students Officer'? Surely its all about 'afro-carribean'?

See article above

Aug 22 2007 18:30

"Black Students Officer" means "Non-White Students Officer", not just afro-carribean. Ex-pres Fok counts as "black".

35. wikid   
Aug 22 2007 21:13

is it coz i is black?

Aug 23 2007 10:47

Me... Black... Does that mean I am on the D...A...R...K...Side!

37. @alice   
Aug 25 2007 15:44

just shutup

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See Also

  1. Snippets - 01/06/2007
    01 Jun 07 | Snippets
  2. NUS Conference Blog 2007
    31 Mar 07 | News
  3. NUS Conference Summary 2007
    30 Mar 07 | News

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