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A degree boosts earning power by 20 per cent

Emma Lunn
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Emma Lunn

Graduates across the UK earn on average about a fifth more than their peers who did not go to university, according to government figures.

The Department for Education has published data showing graduate earnings and employment outcomes by region, as part of a drive to make more information available to help prospective students make their choices.

The data show that graduates earn a median annual salary of £19,900 one year after graduating, £23,300 after three years, £26,000 after five, and £30,500 after ten years.

On average, by their mid-20s, graduates earn around 20 per cent more than their peers living in the same region who achieved five A*-Cs at GCSE but did not go on to complete a degree-level qualification.

The highest difference was for graduates in the South West, who earned 22.2 per cent more than non-graduates, followed by the West Midlands with a 21.1 per cent difference.

Chris Skidmore, universities minister, said: “I am delighted to see graduates across the country are reaping the rewards of going to university through sustained employment and higher salaries, which in turn benefits their local economies.

“Discussions about graduate outcomes and earnings should not simply focus on the major cities, so I hope this data will play a key role in highlighting the benefits and the potential that higher education can bring to graduates and regions in the whole country.

“Of course, university is not just about earnings potential – it can produce wider cultural and social benefits. We know that higher education can play an important part in driving social mobility, so this will help our understanding of how university can benefit graduates in a way that is relevant to the region.”

They government said the report is part of its drive to “improve transparency around higher education, ensuring that information about likely earnings, employability and teaching quality is easy to access for everyone going to university”.

However, a report published in January by the Intergenerational Foundation found that rich students dodge student debt by paying tuition fees upfront, while poorer students work long hours to make ends meet rather than focus on their studies.

The think tank said this puts self-funders at a “serious economic advantage” to fellow graduates when it comes to saving power, spending power, and the ability to get a mortgage after university.

The Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) reported in 2017 that English graduates have the highest student debts in the developed world as they leave university with an average of £50,000 to repay.