News

LSE graduates top average earnings table by age 29, data shows

Posted on: 2018-11-27 15:00:00

Students from the London School of Economics wear mortar boards and gowns during a ceremony for university graduates in London,
Graduation day at the London School of Economics in London. The LSE was also the only institution where women averaged earnings above £50,000. Photograph: Bloomberg/Getty

The London School of Economics has emerged as the university whose graduates earn the most by the age of 29, while economics has narrowly topped medicine as the best-paid degree subject, data shows.

The LSE was the top institution for average earnings by both men and women in England, according to raw earnings data compiled from tax records by the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS), with male students going on to earn an average of £60,000 a year by 29, while women earned £55,000.

The LSE was also the only institution where women averaged earnings above £50,000, while former male students at a further four – Oxford, Cambridge, Warwick and Imperial – earned above £50,000.

Warwick graduates experienced a 22% gap in the average pay for men compared with women, while the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons was one of the few institutions where women had a higher average income than men who attended.

Of individual courses, the breakdown shows some big gender gaps within institutions and courses. The most extreme was among those who studied architecture at Cambridge: while men recorded average earnings of £200,000, for  women the figure was just £50,000.

At the other end of the scale, former Bolton university students earned less than £22,000 a year for men and £18,500 for women. The figures included students who failed to complete their courses, with Bolton having a higher than average proportion of dropouts who earn less than those who completed their degrees.

The figures are part of a long-running study of graduate outcomes funded by the Department for Education, and will inevitably play a role in the debate over tuition fees and graduate debt in England.

Sam Gyimah, the higher education minister, said: “The Office for Students, the new regulator we have set up to look out for students’ interests, has the power to crack down on institutions delivering poor outcomes for students. I strongly support their work, and expect to see them use the full range of powers at their disposal to protect students’ interests.”

Comparing graduate incomes to those of workers with similar school-level results revealed that men studying at Bolton and 11 other institutions – 4% of all male graduates - earned less than their peers who did not go to university at all.

Adjusting for potential incomes without attending university, the IFS found that graduating from university increased average earnings at age 29 by 28% for women and just 8% for men.

Using the same comparison revealed that women who studied maths at Oxford improved their earnings by 270% over their alternatives, while men taking economics at Bristol university enjoyed a return of 179%.

The analysis found that a student’s earlier educational results, including GCSE and A-level grades, as well as their social and economic status, was strongly linked to differences in graduate incomes.

Chris Belfield, a research economist at the IFS and one of the study’s authors, said higher education had only a small impact on the earnings of men without maths or science qualifications, who had lower school exams results.

“This is because they are more likely to take lower-return subjects and attend less prestigious institutions, and even when they study the same subject or attend the same institution, they appear to benefit less than their higher prior attainment peers,” he said.

“However, there are options for these students that do yield good positive returns: computer science and business degrees, for example, accept large numbers of lower prior attainment students, and have a big positive impact on their early-career earnings.”



Richard Adams and Niamh McIntyre
Source: The Guardian


Available on the go

Once you are registered, you can access all of these key benefits straight from your phone. Find us on:

Get it on iTunes Get it on Google Play