Just how much do top universities really boost your earnings?

A new study suggests that family background might be a bigger factor in graduates' success

The financial advantages of studying at a Russell Group university may not be as clear-cut as you thought, a new report suggests.

The prestigious group of 24 universities prides itself on statistics that show graduates earn up to 10 per cent more than those from modern institutions.

Yet Ian Walker, an economics professor at Lancaster University and one of the study’s authors, has explained that when controls relating to A-level achievement and family background are factored in, differences in average graduate earnings are ‘not statistically significant’.

When these are introduced, male Russell Group graduates earn two percent less than those from other universities dated pre-1992, and only three percent more than those from post-1992 institutions.

Walker told Times Higher Education that students from reputed universities earn more not because they studied at a "better teaching institution" but because they are simply "smarter graduates".

Dr Wendy Piatt, director general of the Russell Group, responded: “Trying to control for differences in students’ entry qualifications or background is not particularly meaningful, and incredibly difficult to do with any reasonable accuracy. The report’s authors are quite candid that in this respect their analysis is basic and imperfect.

“Our leading universities are highly selective and we make no apologies for that - we want to admit students with the qualifications, potential and determination to succeed - whatever their background. That’s why there are seven applications for every place across our universities.”  

Overall, the government study finds that the average female with a degree can expect to earn an extra £252,000 over their lifetime, with their male peers £168,000 better off. The biggest earnings premium for both men and women comes from medical and and economics-related subjects, while law, business, maths, engineering, computer science and physical science degrees each provide a boost of at least 20 per cent.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
tv
News
Prince Harry is clearing enjoying the Commonwealth Games judging by this photo
people(a real one this time)
News
Gardai wait for the naked man, who had gone for a skinny dip in Belfast Lough
newsTwo skinny dippers threatened with inclusion on sex offenders’ register as naturists criminalised
News
Your picture is everything in the shallow world of online dating
i100
Life and Style
Attractive women on the Internet: not a myth
techOkCupid boasts about Facebook-style experiments on users
Sport
Van Gaal said that his challenge in taking over Bobby Robson's Barcelona team in 1993 has been easier than the task of resurrecting the current United side
football
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Student

Primary Supply Teachers Required

£121 - £142 per day: Randstad Education Luton: primary teacher Hertfordshire

Year 2 Teacher Plymouth

£23500 - £40000 per annum: Randstad Education Plymouth: Year 2 Primary Teacher...

Year 1 Teacher Plymouth

£23500 - £40000 per annum: Randstad Education Plymouth: Year 1 Primary Teacher...

Business Studies Teacher

£85 - £140 per day: Randstad Education Cheshire: Teacher of Business Studies r...

Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

The air strikes were tragically real

The children were playing in the street with toy guns
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

Britain as others see us

Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them altogether

Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them

Jonathon Porritt sounds the alarm
How did our legends really begin?

How did our legends really begin?

Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

Lambrusco is back on the menu

Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz
A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

A new Russian revolution

Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

Standing my ground

If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
The man who dared to go on holiday

The man who dared to go on holiday

New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

The Guest List 2014

Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on