University graduates have been warned not to set their hopes too high despite a big increase in vacancies registered with an employment service. Vacancies recorded by the online Joint Institutions Job Information System rose to 18,006 between March 1 and May 31, an increase of more than 30 per cent from 13,663 at the same time last year. The number surprised employment consultant Edmond So Wai-chung, who said he had expected the numbers to be down because of difficult economic conditions. 'I thought it would have been worse than last year,' said So, general manager of Besteam Personnel Consultancy. The increases in jobs offered were as much as 84 per cent for community and social work and 61 per cent for the creative, design and arts industries. But So was especially surprised by a rise of more than half in vacancies offered by the banking and finance industry, which he said was 'beyond my expectations'. The vacancies in this sector rose from 2,177 to 3,355, an increase of 54 per cent. Despite the greater opportunities, So warned that employers would expect candidates to be proficient in English, Cantonese and Putonghua. The English of some graduates was not up to standard, he said. The median salary offered for graduate jobs is HK$11,000 a month, while the average is HK$12,036. So said that judging from his experience, the top salaries were paid only to graduates from the elite universities, such as The University of Hong Kong and Chinese University, while others had to settle for less. He advised this year's graduates not to be too selective when hunting for jobs. 'Don't expect too many high salaries as the competition is fierce nowadays.' A spokesman for the Joint Institutions Job Information System said there was unlikely to be any duplication with the vacancies since the entries were based on employers' business registration numbers.