Recruitment programmes that filter out candidates who fail gain at least 2:1 degrees run counter to many employers’ duties to hire a “diverse” workforce, it is claimed.

It is believed as many as three-quarters of top employers currently require good grades as a minimum threshold for an interview, reports The Daily Telegraph. But Prof Sir Tim Wilson, who carried out the review, said that focusing on students from a small number of universities — often leading research institutions — was “too narrow”.

He called on graduate employers to carry out a systematic review of screening policies amid fears companies could be missing out on talented candidates from non-traditional backgrounds.

Sir Tim, former vice-chancellor of Hertfordshire University, also suggested that companies should make greater use of new-style graduate report cards that mark out students’ achievements in a range of areas including extra-curricular activities in addition to raw degree grades.