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How jobless students could get their money back

University student studying in library
ML Harris | Getty Images
University student studying in library

Post-graduate students are no longer just hoping to get a job after university but many are expecting it, and taking a closer look at their universities if this does not materialize.

Courses – especially in degrees such as law and medicine – are being viewed as a large financial investment, with students expecting a return on the money they fork out for their degrees.

In response, post-graduate schools both in the U.S. and in the U.K. are coming up with ways to convince potential students to sign up to their expensive courses.

"There is a continuing issue around students becoming increasingly disappointed with what they believe they will achieve after their higher education," said Zain Ismail, a student and president of the law society at City University in London, in an email to CNBC.


Brooklyn Law School, in New York, is offering to repay 15 percent of total tuition costs to those who have not found full-time jobs nine months after graduating.

That, according to school officials, is how long it typically takes graduates to get such jobs and, if necessary, to obtain the requisite licenses, reports the New York Times.

To qualify, students must take the bar exam after graduating, though they need not pass it. They must also demonstrate that they have actively searched for full-time work and have made use of the school's career resources.

The planned program, called Bridge to Success, says the reimbursement applies only to out-of-pocket tuition expenses, including loan payments; scholarships and grants are not covered, according to the NYT.

Graduates on both sides of the Atlantic face increasing competition in a jobs market that is slowly recovering from the economic downturn. In the U.K., one university is committing to its students by offering its graduates up to £7,000 ($9,959) back if they don't land a job within nine months of leaving their course.

The University of Law (ULaw) in Guildford, near London, launched the new initiative for its legal practice course students in an attempt to "shake-up" the legal training sector following a 97 percent graduate employment rate, reports the U.K.'s Independent newspaper.

"Many businesses are now progressing with huge restructuring plans and therefore in reality, are recruiting internally only. This then clearly has an effect on the external recruitment processes," Ismail told CNBC.

Meanwhile, in California on Monday, a post-graduate student took her law school to trial. Anna Alaburda graduated in the top tier of her class nearly a decade ago, passed the state bar exam and set out to use the law degree she had spent about $150,000 to acquire.

However, since graduating from the Thomas Jefferson School of Law in 2008, she has yet to find a full-time salaried job as a lawyer, according to the New York Times.

Alaburda is accusing her school of inflating its employment data for its graduates as a way to lure students to enroll.

"One must remember that universities are also businesses and are subject to legal claims. They have to protect themselves and ensure they remain competitive within the higher education market, whilst also being honest with potential students," Ismail told CNBC.

Thomas Jefferson School of Law wasn't immediately available for comment when contacted by CNBC but a statement from the school, published by local media, said that it was whole-heartedly committed to providing students with the knowledge, skills and tools necessary to excel as law students.

It added that it had a "strong track record of producing successful graduates, with 7,000 alumni working nationally and internationally."

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