Sutton Trust research reveals cost of unpaid internships to graduates

19 November 2014

New research published by the Sutton Trust has revealed that 31 per cent of university graduates working as interns are unpaid. The report finds that ‘the cost barriers to participating in an unpaid internship have significant consequences for social mobility’.

The new research brief ‘Internship or Indenture’ compares the cost of living in Manchester and London, and indicates the minimum cost of a six month unpaid internship. This is estimated at £4,728 (£788 a month) in Manchester and £5,556 (£926 a month) in London.

The study also reveals the results of a recent poll which show that ‘70 per cent of people aged 16-75 in England agree unpaid internships “are unfair because only people from wealthy families are likely to be able to work for a significant period without pay.”’

The findings also showed that the cultural and creative sector rely most on unpaid interns with unpaid internships making up 63 per cent of overall internships advertised. Media-related positions follow close behind with 56 per cent of opportunities being unpaid and the financial and professional sectors follow this with 42 per cent unpaid internships.

The study raises questions about how accessible entry level positions are in the most competitive professions, and recommends that internships lasting longer than a month should be paid at least the minimum wage, preferably the living wage.

Read the full report here