From education to employment

University subjects with best employability rates & grad salaries, revealed

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In today’s competitive job market, choosing the right university and course is crucial for students and their future careers – and with Rishi Sunak declaring clamp down on “rip off degrees” it’s more important than ever. Under Sunak’s plans, the Office for Students (OfS) will be asked to limit the number of students universities can recruit onto courses that are failing to deliver good outcomes for students.

With the above in mind, the data experts at Leeds-based, a specialist technical SEO, Data & Content company, collated and analysed over 24,000 pieces of data in a bid to provide prospective students with data-driven insights to make informed decisions regarding their choice of university and course. This data included employability rates and course popularity trends, amongst other key metrics.

Employability rates

The team analysed data from, Hesa, and Emolumentto decipher the employment rate by subject and the subsequent average graduate salary for by sector. Those with the best employment rate included medicine and dentistry (92%), education (89%), and veterinary science (88%).

The 10 subjects with the highest employment rate, ordered from highest to lowest, included –

Subject    Employment rate percentage    Av. Grad salary (all skill levels)    
Medicine & Dentistry92%£35,000
Veterinary science88%£32,000
Medicine Related87%£26,000
Social Studies74%£26,000
Mass Communications74%£23,000
Combined Subjects71%£26,500
Engineering and Tech71%£29,500

While students still have a few months before the application deadlines for the majority of university courses (deadline for 2024 entry is 31 January 2024 at 6pm UK time), some university application deadlines areas early as next week (for any course at the universities of Oxford and Cambridge, or for most courses in medicine, veterinary medicine/science, and dentistry, the deadline for 2024 entry is 16 October 2023 at 6pm UK time).

The 10 sectors with the average graduate salaries (all skills levels), ordered from highest to lowest, included –

Sector    Av. Grad salary (all skill levels)    
Internet & Digital£29,354
Buying and Merchandising£29,254
Military & Defence£29,033
Science & Technology£28,982

Course popularity

Looking at enrolment figures to determine how popular a degree is, the data suggests that business and management courses are the most popular (based on total enrolment figures from 2019/20-2021/22 academic years).

The top 10 most popular subjects included:

Subject    Enrolment figures (total from 2019/20-2021/22 academic years)    
Business and management530,460
Subjects allied to medicine366,210
Social sciences286,325
Design, and creative and performing arts189,890
Engineering and technology185,725
Education and teaching135,960
Biological and sport sciences117,505

Thierry Ngutegure, Head of Data Insight at, commented:

“By leveraging our comprehensive data, we are able to track the popularity of different courses over time. This analysis sheds light on emerging trends, enabling prospective students to align their interests with popular fields, and in doing so maximising their opportunities for future employment.

“Interestingly, we found that non-grads have actually seen a larger percentage increase in their salaries than graduates over the last 10 years – we can see that in total “non-graduates” saw a 6.45% increase in salaries from 2012 to 2022, whereas Post graduates and graduates both saw a decrease in average salaries in the same period. Male Post Graduates saw a 9.80% decrease in their average salaries, which is the largest decrease across gender and level of education. Female Non-Graduates saw a 10.71% increase in their average salaries across the ten years, which is the largest change across gender and level of study.

“Its worth noting that whilst it can be easy to measure the value of degrees based on binary measures like employment and salary, it is also important to measure the intrinsic value and long-term benefit. As an example, some of the best-paid jobs with the highest employment also have the highest dropout rates and burnout rates.”

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