Graduates earn £10,000 more per year than those who don’t go to university, proving that a degree continues to be a rewarding investment, brand new data has revealed today (25 April).

The new figures published by the Department for Education show a continued rise, as working-age graduates aged 16-64 earned a median salary of £34,000 in 2018, a rise of £1,000 from the previous year, while their non-graduate peers who chose a different path earned a median salary of £24,000.

The figures show that a degree continues to be a worthwhile investment, however it also revealed that gaps in earnings still exist between different groups of the working age population – with male graduates earning £9,500 more than female graduates, and white graduates also earning £9,500 more than black graduates.

The Universities Minister has welcomed the overarching figures that highlight the value of a degree, but warned that there is further to go to tackle the disparities between different groups.

There have been number of initiatives launched across government to ensure that everyone no matter their background has the opportunity to succeed, including social mobility programmes like Opportunity Areas, measures through the Race Disparity Audit, and legislative reforms to improve access and successful participation at university.

Universities Minister Chris Skidmore said:

"We have record rates of 18-year-olds in England going into higher education so I am delighted to see that there continues to be a graduate premium and students are going on to reap the rewards of their degrees.

“However, this Government is clear that all graduates, no matter their gender, race or background, should be benefitting from our world-class universities and there is clearly much further to go to improve the race and gender pay gap.

“We have introduced a range of reforms in higher education which have a relentless focus on levelling the playing field, so that everyone with the talent and potential, can not only go to university but flourishes there and has the best possible chance of a successful career.”

The Government has put in place a number of measures which aim to narrow the gaps between the outcomes between different groups, including gender, ethnic group and those from disadvantaged backgrounds.

All universities will be drawing up access and participation plans for implementation in 2020/21, which will set out how they will improve equality of opportunity for underrepresented groups to access, succeed in and progress from higher education. The regulator, the Office for Students, will scrutinise these plans and hold universities to account if they are not up to standard.


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In February, the Government launched a series of measures to improve outcomes for ethnic minority students in higher education, which included gathering evidence on what works to improve ethnic minority outcomes, providing better student information with a greater focus on supporting underrepresented groups, and engaging with league table compilers on including progress on tackling disparities.

To tackle the gender and race pay gaps, the Government has introduced ground-breaking regulations which require large employers to publish the differences in pay for male and female staff and is consulting on plans for ethnicity pay reporting by employers.

The statistics published today are part of the government’s drive to improve information for prospective students, showing 87.7 per cent of graduates are in employment compared with 71.6 per cent of non-graduates. The data also includes earnings by industry, showing that working age graduates in Transport and Communication earn the highest median salaries, followed by graduates in Banking and Finance.

It also shows that across England graduates aged 16-64 can expect to earn £39,000 in London, £32,000 in the South West and £28,500 in the North East.

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