Graduate degrees pay off claims ONSGrauates earn £12,000 more than non-graduates

08 April 2011


New figures show graduates are on average £12,000 a year better off than their non-graduate colleagues

New figures from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) show graduates earn an average of £12,000 a year more than non-graduates

Graduates better off

Over the past decade graduates aged 22 to 64 earned average salaries of £30,000 after adjusting for increased earnings, and are on average £12,000 a year better off than their non-graduate colleagues. 

The differences are accentuated with age, with graduate and non-graduate earnings nearly identical for those aged 22, earnings increased faster for each year of age for those with degrees. 

Graduate earnings also continued to rise for longer, levelling off at the age of 35 and peaking at £34,500 at the age of 51. The figures are summarised in this video produced by the ONS:

Gender, unemployment and debt

However, the ONS's figures do not take the rising costs of higher education or rising graduate unemployment into account.

Figures released by the ONS in January for the third quarter of 2010 showed 20% of university graduates had failed to find a job last year as graduate unemployment rose to the highest levels since 1995. And a survey by the BBC suggests up to half of universities in the UK may charge the maximum tuition fee of £9,000 a year. 

Commenting on the figures, Aaron Porter, National Union of Students President, said: "There is of course still a financial benefit for many graduates but this potential will be denied to many young people put off by the debt that comes with the tripling of tuition fees." 

The statistics also reveal a continuing gender gap, as earnings for women are lower than those for men, and also level off earlier, regardless of whether they have a degree. A male graduate can expect to earn 20% more on average than a female graduate. 

Help from Which? 

With the huge jump in university fees those wishing to graduate are more likely than ever to take on a significant debt-burden, but choosing the right bank account can make a huge difference.

For help, take a look at our guide to choosing the best student and graduate bank accounts, including information on which account to choose, and information about loans and grants. 

And for those facing debt problems, there's also advice on what you should and shouldn't do, including why you should avoid commercial debt management firms

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