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Getting a degree still pays an earnings premium

20 August 2013

Whatever subject they study, graduates continue to earn more than non-graduates, according to latest research by Professor Ian Walker of the Department of Economics.

‌Whatever subject they study, graduates continue to earn more than non-graduates, according to latest research by Professor Ian Walker of the Department of Economics.

A study commissioned by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and published last week shows that, despite increases in tuition fees, average graduate earnings continue to exceed those of non-graduates in all subject areas. In terms of lifetime earnings potential, business-related degrees and the STEM subjects (Science, Technology, Engineering and Medicine) continue to offer the highest returns.

Writing in The Telegraph, Ian Walker explains that "taking into account the tuition fees, student loans and taxation on earnings over a lifetime, as a man you'll have earned an additional 28% more (£168k over a working lifetime) on average compared with someone with a similar background who didn't go to university."

For women, the gap between what female graduates and non-graduates earn is markedly larger, equating to an additional 52% (£252k over a working lifetime), reflecting the difference in types of jobs done by graduates and non-graduates. The most significant factor, however, is the class of degree awarded.