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Earning potential found to be up to £13,500 pa higher for Russell Group graduates

Russell Group grads earn up to £513,000 more than non-Russell Group over a working life 

New data from job search engine reveals that jobseekers from Russell Group universities can expect to earn up to £13,500 more per year than jobseekers from non-Russell Group universities five years after graduating, marking a potential wage gap of £513,000 over an average working life*.

The data from Adzuna’s ‘ValueMyDegree’ tool, which uses comprehensive information from over half a million CVs to evaluate the value of a University qualification, revealed the difference in earning potential between Russell Group and non-Russell Group graduates: 

Average earnings per degree qualification compared to average earnings from Russell Group universities: 


Average earning potential

Highest earning degrees 

Difference (£)

Difference (%)

Computer Science  


£43,090 at Oxford



Accounting and Finance 


£41,519 at LSE



Systems Engineering


£41,806 at Warwick





£40,030 at Oxford





£37,204 at UCL





£36,511 at Oxford





£36,199 at Cambridge





£35,872 at Oxford





£35,592 at LSE





£35,444 at Manchester



Five out of the 10 highest paying degrees belong to Oxford University, while the remaining five come from Cambridge, LSE, Manchester, UCL and Warwick. Every salary in the top 10 is above the national average salary (£33,788) with just five years of work experience.

A degree in computer science at Oxford University was found to have the highest earning potential. In terms of career paths with this qualification, Adzuna’s data found the majority of graduates move into Software Development positions five years after graduating. The degree is an appealing option for students, with over 25,000 Software Development positions currently available in the UK with an average salary of £50,568.

Finance degrees ranked highly in terms of earning potential, however this industry was found to have the biggest pay gap based on the university. According to Adzuna’s data, graduates in finance from a non-Russell Group university could earn £13,500 less than some of their Russell Group counterparts. 

Andrew Hunter, Co-Founder of Adzuna, commented:

“Employers need to realise that using university league tables isn’t the only way to source great talent and we’d like to see better diversity in recruitment practices. It’s incredibly eye-opening to see that despite the ongoing conversations around diversity in 2019, we’re still seeing candidates’ earning potential determined by which university they went to. Comparing the earning potential of Russell Group qualifications versus non-Russell Group really highlights how vast the gap is and this is something that absolutely needs to end. 

“The UK has a wealth of talent within its workforce, some degree educated and some not, so by recruiting based solely on university league tables, employers are ultimately missing out on excellent candidates.” 

ValueMyDegree uses text mining and machine learning methods to cross analyse insight from CVs against average UK salaries, to produce an overall degree valuation. The tool also reveals the most common jobs associated with each qualification – again based on CV data from graduates – and even shows how the salary ‘value’ compares with other institutions.

Methodology: Adzuna analysed the data from over 1 million CV’s and developed unique algorithms to model the complex patterns in the data. We use text mining to extract a wide range of information including work history, education and skills from CV’s. We run this information through our algorithms to get a statistical estimate of your market value.

Then Adzuna extracted education and job information from 686,720 UK CV’s. Using machine learning methods, Adzuna modeled how the average salary after five years work experience varies depending on the institution and course, to help students make the right decisions when it comes to choosing an institution or a course. 

Adzuna used this methodology to identify the main professions graduates move into within the first five years of work, to establish the opportunities associated with each qualification. The tool covers 152 of the 166 institutions across the UK, and 58 courses.

The data analysed is from CVs uploaded via the ValueMyCV tool. These were checked for relevant qualification and removed from if none applied or we were not able to extract the qualification level, institution or course details. 84,213 contained all the required data and were used for training the model.

*Based on the average person graduating at 22, turning 27 after five years of work experience (the level of work experience that Value my Degree measures), and retiring at 65, earning £13,500 more than a graduate from a non-Russell Group University.

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