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The End of the Gap Year?

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Is the gap year soon to become the latest victim of the woeful graduate recruitment market?

Is the gap year soon to become the latest victim of the woeful graduate recruitment market? A study of nearly 20,000 finalists released last month seems to suggest as much. Increasing numbers of students are shunning the chance to top up the tan in order to top up the CV instead, the analysis by High Fliers Research shows. That comes as no surprise: the same survey reveals that applications for graduate employment have increased by a massive 40% in just two years.

In fact, around four in ten final-year undergraduates are applying for jobs in September or October - a full year before the end of their studies. That, again, is unsurprising. Those students are chasing spots coveted by on average six other students. In some cases the ratio is as one-sided as twelve university leavers to every available graduate-level job.

In all, it's grim news indeed for those approaching the end of their studies. The same set of statistics also shows that the average undergraduate will owe just a little under £20,000 this year. The figure is set to rise with next year's tuition fee increase.

In the current climate, then, the gap year is looking less and less like a reward for completing finals exams, and more and more like an unaffordable and impractical luxury. Another option, of course, is the Master's Degree, which is another way to fill up a year; but either way, a year out backpacking is hardly the most attractive option to those without a comfy financial support to rest on.

If you're taking a year out, swapping the interview for the sea view and exchanging employment for enjoyment, then you're certainly taking a serious risk. Just remember that old saying: there's a fine line between bravery and stupidity.

Tom N, GRB Journalist

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