Graduate recruitment best practice

The Graduate Market in 2014, a study of graduate vacancies at the country’s leading employers, has highlighted that employers are increasing their graduate intake by nearly 10% in 2014. Despite a dip in recent years, firms such as investment banks, law firms and the public sector are likely to see a sharp increment in applicant’s this year; holding both domestic and international qualifications.

Each recruiter has their own requirements, with a 2:1 and ABB frequently being required at bachelor and A levels respectively. This is obviously simple to regulate when an applicant has qualifications awarded within the UK, but how do employers ensure that these benchmarks are consistent across all applicants – how do they guarantee that applicants educated in countries such as Nigeria, India and China are held to a comparable standard?

UK NARIC has seen a sharp increase in communication with graduate employers over the last 12 months. The majority of our conversations have been with HR Managers hoping to ensure that they are providing a consistent message to all applicants; aiming to stand behind UK NARIC information when decisions are questioned by the applicant.

As a result of this the International Grade Comparisons database was developed in 2013. Recruiters have been able to ensure consistency in grade equivalences from over 40 key feeder countries to the UK, with further consultation ensuring that an additional 20 countries will be added to the database in 2014.

The next step has been for recruiters to ask UK NARIC for help in streamlining their application systems; by providing data to support the application procedure recruiters have been able to ensure that applicants were signposted to appropriate jobs and the selection process has been made more efficient in terms of reduced unsuitable applicants.

We’d be interested to hear from any graduate recruiters in the hope of further discussing challenges, such as what has been mentioned above, as we continue to work towards providing information which is relevant and useful to all sectors. Please do get in contact ( should you have any thoughts, suggestions or questions about the above information or UK NARIC as a whole.

Application Trends – English Speaking Africa

The 2009 figures from UNESCO showed that there were 3.3 million outwardly mobile students across the world.

The regions with the largest number of mobile students are East Asia and the Pacific, North America and Western Europe, while the regions with the lowest number of mobile students are Latin America and the Caribbean, the Arab States and Sub-Saharan Africa. For each of these six regions, North America and Western Europe are the top destinations. Taking a closer look at the UNESCO figures for English speaking African countries, the UK is second most popular destination; South Africa being the first.

In terms of UK NARIC assessments, the region as a whole also accounts for around 10% of the total number undertaken every year. The number of assessments we have undertaken for applicants from these countries (plus the overall ranking) over the past four years highlights some interesting points:

Country 2008
Botswana 25 97th 11 112th 9 123rd
Cameroon 126 42nd 154 39th 105 43rd 140 42nd
Gambia 7 125th 10 120th
Ghana 591 17th 534 18th 480 17th 250 17th
Kenya 142 40th 161 38th 126 39th 120 145th
Liberia 1 168th 5 141st
Malawi 15 108th 11 112th 9 123rd
Namibia 3 143rd 7 135th
Nigeria 1680 6th 1587 7th 1295 6th 1469 5th
Sierra Leone 52 63rd 52 69th 35 78th 28 92nd
South Africa 2109 5th 1987 4th 1374 5th 1220 8th
Tanzania 26 85th 28 94th 21 95th 30 88th
Uganda 103 46th 123 45th 94 45th 148 40th
Zambia 50 67th 84 52nd 52 56th 47 70th
Zimbabwe 440 20th 443 20th 242 27th 265 30th
Total 5319 5193 3857 3757

The total number of assessments has fallen by nearly 30% over the past four years (5319 in 2008 and 3757 in 2011). In terms of individual assessments, both Nigeria and South Africa have been in the top ten for the whole period. However, whilst numbers from Nigeria have held relatively steady, those from South Africa have declined by nearly 50% in these four years.

It is nonetheless still the case that these two countries account for around 71% of all applications made from this region.

Qualification level of migrants

The table below shows the breakdown of the level of South African and Nigerian qualifications submitted during 2011:

Nigeria South Africa
Qualification level Examples % Examples %
Below Level 3 on the UK Qualifications Framework (QCF) Senior School Certificate, The West African Senior School Certificate, Nigeria Certificate of Education, Advanced Certificate in Secretarial Studies 34% N2 Engineering Studies, N3 Certificate in Engineering Drawing, National Certificate : Business Management 38%
A level and Sub-Degree Equivalents (QCF Levels 3, 4 and 5) Registered Nurse, Diploma in Computer Education, Higher National Diploma in Electrical Electronics 17% National Certificate N5 in Business Management, National Diploma in Industrial Engineering 14%
British Bachelor level Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry, Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) (1990) 42% Bachelor of Arts, Baccalaureus Legum 40%
Postgraduate Postgraduate Diploma in Education, Master of Science in Mathematics, Doctor of Philosophy 8% Post Graduate Certificate in Education, Bachelor of Veterinary Science, Master of Education, Philosophiae Doctor (Chemistry) 7%

The spread of qualifications from these countries is very interesting; nearly half are above Bachelor level, but a considerable proportion are below Level 3 on the UK QCF, in contrast to the overall average.

Tim Buttress, February 2013

What is a Statement of Comparability?

Please note that since this article has been published immigration guidance has changed. Please see our post UK NARIC’s Visas and Nationality Service launches on 6 April which contains more up-to-date information.



Since the introduction of the UK NARIC blog in November 2011, the most popular article we have written is ‘How a UK NARIC Statement of Comparability can help’ . Following on from the popularity of the article, here at UK NARIC we thought it a good idea to expand on the points made and further explain what a Statement of Comparability is, what is can do, how it can help; and perhaps equally importantly, what it is not and cannot do.

What is a Statement of Comparability?

Let’s start at the beginning – the purpose of the Statement of Comparability. The idea is that an individual from overseas comes (or is interested in coming) to the UK to study, gain employment or migrate. In order to do this, they need to prove to the admitting institution / potential employer / UK Border Agency* that they have a certain level of education or expertise. However, understanding the level of the qualifications the individual holds and what they can bring to the table is often the first stumbling block: here at UK NARIC, we can provide an assessment and compare the overseas award to a suitable and fair level within the UK national qualification framework. This will then allow the admitting institution / potential employer / UK Border Agency to understand, in more familiar terms, how the award compares to a UK level of education. The document we provide that contains this comparability, together with details of the awarding body, year of completion and title of award, is the Statement of Comparability.

Is UK NARIC’s decision final?

The comparability itself is merely our expert opinion derived from our considerable knowledge and experience which has been developed in close co-operation with universities in the UK as well as other NARICs and relevant authorities. It is not, as is often mistaken, a legally binding decision. A Statement provides details of the professional rights the qualification confers in the country of origin and forms the first stage in a two-stage process of professional recognition. Professional recognition in the UK is conducted by competent authorities such as the Teaching Agency and the Engineering Council.

Can UK NARIC provide a translation?

Usually, in order for UK NARIC to provide a Statement of Comparability, we request both the original language documents as well as certified translations. However, for certain languages, we can offer our Translation Waiver Service (TWS). The purpose of this service is to allow individuals to send solely the original language documents, thus removing the additional time and expense of certified translations. The full list of languages that are covered under the TWS can be found on the UK NARIC website. It is really important to clarify that the TWS is NOT a translation service – the idea is purely to save individuals time and money by allowing them to send their awards in the original language only.

Does the Statement of Comparability expire?

Another question we are regularly asked is whether the Statement of Comparability has an expiry date. The answer to this is no – it does not! However, as our information is reviewed on a rolling basis, it is possible that an assessment may change over time: new information or evidence may come to light that means we have to review a certain award or even an entire education system. The assessments provided are as accurate as possible, but are based on data available at the time of assessment only.

More information about a Statement of Comparability can be found on the UK NARIC website.

October 2012



*Please check the Home Office website to ensure that you have the most up-to-date information.

Application Trends from Western Europe

The increasing mobility of the European workforce in recent years can be noticed through an increase in the number of individuals applying to UK NARIC from Western Europe. In 2008, the region accounted for 8.5% of applications; in 2011, the figure had risen to 13.5%. The total number of applications from the region exceeded 5,000, similar to the total from India or Pakistan.

The number of assessments we have undertaken for applicants from these countries (plus the overall ranking) over the past four years highlights some interesting points:

Country 2008
Austria 38 79th 49 71st 54 73rd 40 77th
Belgium 66 56th 87 50th 81 52nd 89 52nd
Denmark 59 59th 69 60th 59 67th 59 63rd
Finland 46 70th 47 72nd 30 91st 23 100th
France 850 11th 941 10th 944 10th 831 11th
Germany 664 15th  705 13th 617 17th 475 19th
Greece 89 49th 118 46th 148 42nd 146 41st
Iceland 3 152nd 4 146th
Ireland 297 26th 356 25th 525 21st 442 22nd
Italy 436 21st 539 17th 593 18th 647 14th
Luxembourg 2 162nd 2 158th
Malta 20 103rd 12 115th 9 123rd
Netherlands 160 39th 154 39th 161 41st 173 37th
Norway 46 70th 46 75th 57 70th 27 94th
Portugal 237 32nd 210 36th 192 35th 225 35th
Spain 474 19th 541 16th 683 16th 766 12th
Sweden 118 43rd 141 41st 183 36th 91 51st
Switzerland 67 55th 80 53rd 64 64th 76 57th
UK 430 21st 701 16th 925 10th
Total 3,647 4,533 5,110 5,050


In 2009, UK NARIC began providing a comparable academic level for some UK professional qualifications, in response to the number of these awards being sent through.

Economic migration

It has been reported that the financial troubles besetting certain European economies have led increasing numbers of highly qualified individuals to seek employment outside of their own countries.  These figures appear to confirm this trend.  Taking a closer look at the number of individuals applying for assessments from those countries that have been hardest hit by the economic downturn better highlights the increases:

Country 2008 2011 % change
Greece 89 146 + 64%
Ireland 297 442 + 48%
Italy 436 647 + 48%
Portugal 237 225 – 5%
Spain 474 766  + 61%
W. Europe Total 3,647 5,050 + 38%

Only Portugal shows a decline while Greece, Ireland, Italy and Spain show significant increases.  By contrast, applications from other major European countries such as France, Germany and Netherlands have remained steady or declined slightly.

Qualification level of migrants

Spain, Italy and Ireland are significant source countries, all of them within the top 25 in the County League table.  They have all seen a significant rise in the number of applications they generate.  A breakdown of the level of qualifications submitted from these countries during 2011 is shown below:

Spain (766) Italy (647) Ireland (442)  Global
Examples % Examples % Examples % %
Below Level 3 on the UK Qualifications Framework (QCF) Título de Graduada en Educación Secundaria, Bachillerato Unificado y Polivalente (BUP) 20% Diploma di Maestro d`Arte, Attestato di Qualifica Professionale – Special- izzazione Estetista 11% Leaving Certificate, Junior Certificate 27% 23%
A level and Sub-Degree Equivalents (QCF Levels 3, 4 and 5) Maestra, Especialidad de Educación Musical, Técnica Superior en Información y Comercial- ización Turística 35% Diploma di Esame di Stato, Diploma di Infermiere Professionale (Nursing) 35% National Diploma in Design in Interior Architecture, Higher Certificate in Engineering 33% 25%
British Bachelor level Título de Licenciado / Título de Ingeniero / Título de Arquitecto 23% Laurea, Laurea in Ingegneria 35% Bachelor of Science, Higher Diploma in Arts 29% 34%
Postgraduate Máster en Físcia Aplicada, Máster Universitario en Profesor/a de Educación Secundaria 2% Diploma di Special- izzazione per L`Insegna-
mento Secondario, Diploma di Specialista in Medicina Interna: Medicina d`Urgenza
17% Master of Science,  Certificate of Membership / Associate of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in Ireland 5% 10%
No comparison available 20% 2% 7% 8%

The distribution of enquiries for the three countries highlights that:

  • Italians coming to the UK are more likely to be postgraduates than the global average
  • Irish applicants are more likely to apply with school or vocational qualifications, and
  • It is not possible to provide a comparison for 20% of Spanish cases because applications were not completed or because qualifications were not recognised by the education authorities in Spain (such as the Técnico Superior en Prevención de Riesgos Laborales).

Tim Buttress, August 2012