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.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Student

Recruitment Genius: Graduate Trainee

£15000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This Cloud ERP Solution Provide...

Guru Careers: Junior Designer / Design Graduate

£18 - 20k: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Junior Designer / Design Graduate to...

Guru Careers: Graduate Software Developer / Junior Developer

£20 - 28k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Graduate Software Develop...

Recruitment Genius: Graduate Trainee Teacher - Maths

£18000 - £21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This organization is the larges...

Independent Dating
and  

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

Day In a Page

Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

The future of songwriting

How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

Recognition at long last

Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

Beating obesity

The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
9 best women's festival waterproofs

Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)
Cycling World Hour Record: Nervous Sir Bradley Wiggins ready for pain as he prepares to go distance

Wiggins worried

Nervous Sir Bradley ready for pain as he prepares to attempt cycling's World Hour Record
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back
Thurston Moore interview

Thurston Moore interview

On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
In full bloom

In full bloom

Floral print womenswear
From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

From leading man to Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper is terrific