The Boat Race between Cambridge and Oxford universities is one of the most prestigious events on the sporting calendar / Getty Images

If you play sport at university, you're on track for a larger annual wedge, according to a new survey

Graduates who played sport at university earn nearly £6,000 more on average per year than those who didn't.

A study published today reveals that sportier students can look forward to an average salary of £32,552- 18 per cent more than the £26,728 earned by their less active fellows- according to British Universities & Colleges Sport (BUCS).

University sport is apparently also good for employment prospects: more than a quarter of grads who didn't participate (27 per cent) have been unemployed at some point in their career, compared to just over one in five (21 per cent) of those who did.

The research, which polled nearly 6,000 students and 112 graduate recruiters, was conducted by Sheffield Hallam University.

Commenting on the study, Karen Rothery, chief executive of BUCS, said: “In a challenging economic climate, employers increasingly require candidates to demonstrate achievements beyond academic ability. Key attributes such as team work, communication skills and leadership that can be developed through sport make a student stand out.”

Professor Simon Shibli, one of the lead researchers involved in the study, said that “students need to do more than pass a degree to get their first job and sustain their employability”.

"The evidence indicates strongly that in the context of rising fees, engagement in sport is associated with providing a good career return on investment."

He added: "There is also significant evidence from employers that engagement in sport is a recognised strength and a source of differentiation between top quality and average graduates. However, it's not just about playing sport, it’s the involvement in volunteering and management aspects that can provide a competitive advantage in the job market."

Read more: Do sports societies at university need to be more inclusive?