A degree is worth it, but particularly if you’re a man
With the price a degree alone now £27,000, with living expenses on top, graduates may leave university with debts of over £60,000.
The real advantage of a degree is seen in later years, with a degree worth just £4,500 a year for the first nine years after graduation. That said, graduates are more likely to be employed (87.7%) than non-graduates (71.6%) and graduates are more likely to be in high-skilled jobs (65.4%) than non-graduates (22.9%).
Among 21-30-year-olds, however, only 57% of graduates were in high skilled jobs and 19.2% of non-graduates were. This gap has been narrowing in recent years.
Sarah Coles, personal finance analyst, Hargreaves Lansdown, said: “Parents haven’t being lying to their children all these years: on average if you study hard and go to university you’re more likely to end up with a job, it’s more likely to be a highly-skilled one, and you’ll typically earn more money. It means that for the average student, university is well worth the cost.”
However, she said, this is not universally true. In their 20s, female graduates only earn an average of £2,500 a year more than male non-graduates. Between the ages of 16 and 64, male graduates have an average salary of £38,500 (non-graduates £26,500) and female graduates £29,000 (£20,000). Increasingly young graduates are finding it more difficult to get highly skilled jobs, and that a third are in low or medium skilled roles.
Coles added: “This doesn’t mean that for lower earners university is a waste of money, because those who earn less will have more of their loan written off, so even if they only out-earn their non-graduate counterparts fractionally, their degree will be worth the money.”