01 Aug The university courses that make you rich – and the ones that aren’t worth the money
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The university courses that make you rich – and the ones that aren’t worth the money
Rich students still benefit the most from university, but there are strong reasons you may want to consider taking on student debt
Students from rich backgrounds go on to earn 10% more than their fellow students on the same courses, research has revealed.
The higher-paid the job, the more likely rich graduates are to out-earn their peers from less privileged families.
But picking the right university course can still make you significantly richer than someone who doesn’t do a degree.
The wide-ranging study looked at 260,000 students 10 years after graduation, and took into account universities and courses.
Institute for Fiscal Studies research economist Jack Britton said: “This work shows that the advantages of coming from a high-income family persist for graduates right into the labour market at age 30.”
But while the news may sour graduation ceremonies, the research still found a degree pays off. And some degrees earn you a lot more than others.
Why degrees can still pay off
The study found that graduates are much more likely to have a job after 10 years than those who skipped university.
Of those who were earning proper wages, the typical male graduate took home £30,000 after 10 years.
By contrast, men who didn’t go to university earned just £22,000.
The university bonus was even bigger for women – the typical female graduate earned £27,000 after 10 years, compared to just £18,000 without a degree.
Of course, it’s important to remember these studies look at workers who graduated in the past. Today’s graduates will also shoulder larger student debts, which they will pay off a bit like an extra tax.
And how much the graduates earned also depended on their choice of subject. Those who went on to creative careers typically earned no more than non-graduates.
Anna Vignoles of the University of Cambridge, who helped to write the paper, said: “The research illustrates strongly that for most graduates, higher education leads to much better earnings than those earned by non-graduates, although students need to realise that their subject choice is important in determining how much of an earnings advantage they will have.”
The study was funded by the Nuffield Foundation, and carried out by researchers at the Institute for Fiscal Studies, Institute of Education, Harvard University and the University of Cambridge.
The courses that pay the most
Male graduate earnings at the 50th percentile
Medicine – £55,300 a year
Economics – £42,000
Engineering & technology – £31,200
Law – £30,100
Physical sciences – £29,800
Education – £29,600
Architecture – £28,600
Subjects related to medicine – £27,900
Maths & computer science – £26,800
Business – £26,500
History & philosophy – £26,500
Social sciences – £26,200
Biology – £25,200
…And the courses that pay the least
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