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Study highlights wage gap between British university graduates

Posted on: Monday, January 12th, 2015

Older and more established universities are still leading the way when it comes to earnings and employment, according to new research.

Findings published by the Sutton Trust revealed that students who went to Oxford or Cambridge earn thousands of pounds more than those who graduated from some of the newer, less prestigious institutions.
 
The figures also showed unsurprisingly that Oxbridge graduates, are also likely to have higher salaries when they start work than students who studied at other highly-selective institutions.

Furthermore, the average starting wage for a graduate of Oxford or Cambridge was around £25,600.

This works out to be £7,600 higher than the average starting wage of £18,000 for students who went to a new university.

Commenting on the findings, Sutton Trust chairman Sir Peter Lampl said: "It may not surprise anyone that an Oxbridge graduate on average commands a higher salary than someone from a newer university, but a £7,500 (42 per cent) difference which only falls to just under £5,000 allowing for social background and prior attainment is a bigger difference than many might have expected.

"At £3,300, the salary advantage of Oxbridge graduates over even graduates from other elite universities is also significant. While these differences may have been a feature of the system for some time, the fact is that most degrees cost the same to the graduate.

"Their debt repayments may be income-related, but there is no link between the cost of their degree and its later value in the labour market."

Even once the financial background and other factors were taken into consideration, Oxford and Cambridge students still took home starting salaries that were around £4,800 higher than other university leavers.

Oxbridge students who were the first in their family to get a degree were also shown to earn around £1,000 more on average than their fellow students – even those from richer families.

The results had led some to question whether apprenticeships may be the way forward for some poorer students.

In addition, the study has resulted in calls to improve access to the higher institutions.

Sir Peter, said that the research highlights the importance of ensuring that more efforts need to be made into improving social mobility at more established universities.

He added: "With your chances of going to a top university nearly ten times higher if you come from a rich rather than a poor neighbourhood, it is vital that we redouble our efforts to improve access to these institutions."

Cambridge or Oxford students studying the more sought-after subjects such as medicine or dentistry were also more likely to earn significantly higher wages, with graduates earning as much as £12,200 more than those studying design and creative arts.

Students who embarked upon an engineering or technology course, could potentially earn as much as £8,800 more on average than design and creative arts graduates.