A survey of 1,600 hiring managers from leading UK industries found 41 per cent of law firms and a quarter of accountancy, banking and insurance companies are unlikely to hire anyone without a degree.
An alarming 52 per cent of legal and 51 per cent of financial services companies quizzed will only consider candidates from Oxford, St Andrew’s, Cambridge, LSE, Imperial College London, Durham University, UCL or the University of Bath.
Engineering and marketing sectors were also among those most likely to target graduates from these elite ‘top eight’.
Across all industries, key reasons for this included the idea that graduates will already have the required skills (39 per cent) and only wanting the ‘best’ employees (33 per cent).
It also emerged three quarters of those in the law industry believe the skills on someone’s CV are more important than their cultural fit.
Despite this, 67 per cent of legal firm hirers also believe it’s easy to learn skills on the job, without a relevant university education.
While 73 per cent have been pleasantly surprised after hiring someone without a degree.
The research was commissioned by Barrington Hibbert Associates, whose founder and CEO, Michael Barrington-Hibbert, said: “It’s disappointing to see that these industries are missing out on employing so many fantastic candidates from different backgrounds, who have other kinds of education and life experience to bring to the table.
“Having a degree from a leading academic institution will absolutely enhance one’s employment opportunities, however, there are thousands of people who don’t have the financial means to attend higher education, let alone a ‘top eight’ university.
“This demonstrates, rather unfairly, that talented people from lower socioeconomic backgrounds still face a much harder battle to be employed in certain industries in this country.”

Companies miss out on top employees by only hiring those with a degree
The research also found hiring managers in

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