UK's top students look to teaching as economy wilts

Fri Apr 24, 2009 11:00am EDT
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By Nick Vinocur

LONDON (Reuters Life!) - Students nearing graduation from Britain's elite universities say the recession is making them reconsider how and when to enter the job market, with many shunning careers in finance.

Vocations such as teaching, public service and academia are drawing more attention from top students as the luster of lucrative but high-pressure jobs in finance, banking and consultancy fades in the downturn.

"There is some skepticism about certain sectors: banking, fund management, and venture capitalism," Gordon Chesterman, head of career services at the University of Cambridge, told Reuters.

"Students are very well informed -- they read the papers -- and they're shying away from the hard-hit sectors."

Despite record layoffs, most banks and financial institutions are keeping their recruitment programs alive, with some adjustments. New recruits are often told their starting date has been deferred until the next fiscal year -- a cost-saving measure also adopted by many law firms and consultancies.

Finance remains a popular career choice with students at Oxford and Cambridge, but the specter of layoffs and worries over job security have led many to review their options.

While bank recruiters are still flocking to university career fairs around graduation time, fewer students are showing up to chat with them and take home brochures, Chesterman said.

Instead, many prospective graduates at Oxford and Cambridge told Reuters they were looking for jobs outside of finance or deferring their entry into the workforce altogether.   Continued...

<p>The Oxford University rowing team train on the River Thames in west London March 27, 2009. REUTERS/Toby Melville</p>