Leading employers value work experience among graduates more than the grades or the university they have been to, according to new research.

Figures show that 58 per cent of employers rated work experience as “the most popular qualification among those presented” – with a student’s personality coming second, with 48 per cent favouring this.

Only 15 per cent said that they were looking for a degree from a specific university – such as the US Ivy League or the Russell Group, which represents 24 of the most selective universities in the UK – while 16 per cent said that grades from a prestigious university were important.

The survey of employers is included in a report by Universum – a “global leader in employment branding” which specialises in recruitment. It indicates that Ivy League and Russell Group graduates would still have an edge when it comes to seeking employment as a result of employers’ declared priorities.

A word of caution, though, is offered to employers: most students are seeking some kind of work-life balance, so that they can have a life beyond their employment.

“Few (just 10 per cent) defined ‘challenging work’ as having a constant and heavy workload,” the report added.

More: People in Britain reach the age of 'job contentment' at 32

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