Department of Education study shows which university graduates earn more

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A recent study by the UK’s Department of Education has shown a strong relationship between a graduate’s earnings and the university they attended, with the universities of Oxford and Cambridge consistently topping such graduate salary lists.

The study was directed at 23 subjects across UK universities, and at graduate earnings five years after their entering the labour market.

Its statistics further showed that the disparity in salaries based on different universities was even more apparent for certain subjects, including economics, where the median salary for a 2008-09 Cambridge graduate after five years was £61,000, as compared to the lowest median salary of £18,100 for University of East London economics graduates.

A similar trend was found in the disciplines of business studies and law, with the University of Oxford topping the lists for both. Certain humanity subjects also showed a similar correlation between salary and university, including those of history and English. The highest median salary after five years for English, in particular, was found to belong to Cambridge graduates at £31,000.

The study also broke down gender disparities in income, with figures showing that male graduates earned on average more than female graduates in every subject but English. Female English graduates from 58 percent of universities earned more than men after five years, it was found. However, the widest gaps between genders belonged to Medicine and Dentistry, where male graduates at 94 percent of universities earned more than after the same five years.

The World University Rankings reported that University of Cambridge’s Professor of education Anna Vignoles argued that while the data proved that graduate earnings depended heavily on other considerations like prior attainment, they were still an important factor for students choosing their courses and universities.

She said, “I think it useful, not least in enabling us to understand that our system, rightly or wrongly, is pretty much a hierarchical HE system where people with the highest level of prior attainment…go on to get the highest level of earnings.

“We can worry about that and critique that but, from the students’ perspective, it is important to know that.”

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