Which university courses boost graduates' wages the most?


Going to university should mean you earn more over your lifetime. But how much difference does the choice of university and subject actually make?

The impact these educational decisions have on English students - after taking into account their background and how well they were doing academically before university - has been calculated for the first time by the Institute for Fiscal Studies.

So if you know what kind of subject you want to study, you can check how much this degree might increase or decrease your earnings depending on your choice of university by using the drop-down menu below.

The figures show graduate earnings five years after leaving the university relative to the average degree for a man or a woman.

It's an attempt to measure separately the difference made by a type of degree at a particular university.

But remember, there's more to life than money...

Difference in earnings by subject and university choice, five years after graduation

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If you cannot view the drop-down menu click to launch the interactive content.

A previous study by the IFS revealed big differences in the earnings of graduates from different universities - partly because students attending different universities have different abilities and interests. The updated research is an attempt to account for these differences.

Highs and lows

Perhaps unsurprisingly economics is top when it comes to impact on earnings for both men and women, with Cambridge on +£32,532 and the LSE on +£31,307 respectively.

At the other end of the scale creative arts is bottom. For men the Conservatoire for Dance and Drama has an impact of -£19,962 and for women the Guildhall School of Music and Drama comes last with -£16,589.

Methodology: The figures above were produced by the IFS. They show how much the choice of a particular subject at a particular university may affect earnings, five years after graduation in comparison with the average degree.

One way to think of the figures is like this: if an individual had taken all the different subjects listed above, at the different universities, then this is the average impact the different universities would have had on their subsequent income.

The figures take into account the qualities of those students who attend each university. So, bearing in mind that Cambridge or Oxford would expect to have applicants of a high quality the figures attempt to show what benefit an individual can attribute to the effect of the institution itself.

For example, for men, studying business and management at Staffordshire has a similar impact on earnings as the average of all degrees, but studying economics at Cambridge adds the most to earnings five years after graduation.

Different figures have been supplied for men and women. This means the same degree may have a different financial impact for each gender. Where figures for a particular subject show a higher impact for women this may not mean women will be paid more than men, it simply means the impact on female earnings will be greater.

As the research is based in part on data from England's Department for Education, only English students are included in the analysis - even for universities that are based in other parts of the UK.

More details are available from the IFS. Earnings for different professions may vary over time. The figures are based on students graduating between 2008 and 2012. Some courses have been excluded because of lack of data.

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