The educational divide: In London 60% have been to university, but north-east figure is only 29%

Most comprehensive study ever shows failure of campaigns to encourage young people from disadvantaged homes to apply for higher education

Education Editor

Walk down most streets in inner London and the chances are that the next person you bump into will be a graduate.

In Newcastle, though, it would be a completely different story as the north-east has the lowest participation in higher education.

Figures published today by the Office of National Statistics show a stark divide between north and south with inner London the only area of the country where more than half the population (60 per cent) have been to university. In the north-east, it is only 29 per cent.

They show that millions of pounds spend by successive governments on encouraging young people from disadvantaged homes to apply to university are still failing to make a major impact in vast swathes of the country.

The picture painted by the research is the most comprehensive profile of the UK's graduate community ever compiled.

It shows, for instance, that the percentage of graduates employed in jobs which do not need a degree has soared by more than a quarter since the turn of the century - going up from 37 per cent of all graduates in 2001 to 47 per cent last year.

The majority of those in non-graduate roles were employed as secretaries, sales assistants, factory workers or care home staff.

The rise is most marked since the start of the economic crisis in 2008. "This may reflect lower demand for graduate skills as well as an increased supply of graduates," says the report.

If you are looking for a route into employment through your degree, your best bet is to opt for a medicine or dentistry qualification where 95 per cent of students have a job. They are also the highest paid - earning £46,000 a year.

The much reviled media studies degree is in second place in the employment stakes with 93 per cent in employment.  However, graduates here are the lowest earners with just £21,000 a year on average.

The reports shows there has been a steady increase in graduates over the past decade - although a caveat would be that the first year of those paying fees of up to £9,000 a year have not worked their way through university. At present, the figures show the numbers have gone up from 17 per cent in 1992 to 38 per cent last year.

The graduate "premium" still exists, though, despite the expansion. Only four per cent are unemployed compared to five per cent with just an A-level qualification and eight per cent with five A* to C grades at GCSE (including maths and English)

"Graduates were more likely to be employed, less likely to be searching for work and much less likely to be out of the labour force than people who left education with lower qualifications or no qualifications," it added.

On pay, graduate salaries rose "at a fast pace" before levelling out at the age of 38 at an average of £35,000 a year. Those with top grade GCSE passes hit a ceiling of £19,000 a year at the age of 32 while those with A-levels found their salaries rising until they reached the aged of 34 - when, on average, they earned £22,000 a year.

"The decline in annual gross wages that occurred as people got older happened at a slightly faster pace for graduates than for those with qualifications of a lower standard," said the report.

"This may be because graduates earned more over their working life so they were more likely to take early retirement or work fewer hours as they got older."

Finally, the figures show - as might be expected - that those who went to a Russell Group university (the group represents 24 of the country's more selective research institutions) earned £3.63p an hour more than those from other universities.

The report points out that "they are more likely to have an undergraduate degree in a subject such as medicine/dentistry, engineering and physical/environmental sciences".

"Secondly, the entry requirements for Russell Group universities tend to be higher, therefore the graduates from these universities tend to be more likely to go on to highly skilled roles," it added.

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

Guru Careers: Trainee Software Developer / Graduate Developer / Junior Software Engineer

£13 - 16k + Training & Excellent Benefits: Guru Careers: We have a unique oppo...

Guru Careers: Graduate Marketing Executive / Marketing Assistant

£18 - 23k (DOE): Guru Careers: A Graduate Marketing Executive / Assistant is n...

Recruitment Genius: Graduate Trainee

£20000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This leading provider to the fa...

Ashdown Group: Graduate IT Analyst - Global ERP Implementation - London

£25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful & reputable global business is l...

Independent Dating
and  

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

Day In a Page

Greece says 'No': A night of huge celebrations in Athens as voters decisively back Tsipras and his anti-austerity stance in historic referendum

Greece referendum

Greeks say 'No' to austerity and plunge Europe into crisis
Ten years after the 7/7 terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?

7/7 bombings anniversary

Ten years after the terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?
Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has created

Versace haute couture review

Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has ever created
No hope and no jobs, so Gaza's young risk their lives, climb the fence and run for it

No hope and no jobs in Gaza

So the young risk their lives and run for it
Fashion apps: Retailers roll together shopping and social networking for mobile customers

Fashion apps

Retailers roll together shopping and social networking for mobile customers
The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy
Number of young homeless in Britain 'more than three times the official figures'

'Everything changed when I went to the hostel'

Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
Compton Cricket Club

Compton Cricket Club

Portraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb to be displayed in London
London now the global money-laundering centre for the drug trade, says crime expert

Wlecome to London, drug money-laundering centre for the world

'Mexico is its heart and London is its head'
The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court that helps a winner keep on winning

The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court

It helps a winner keep on winning
Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate