Creative arts graduates are the lowest-paid in Britain, survey finds

Creative arts grads' pay is no more than school-leavers', as equality campaigners criticise ongoing gender pay gap

Aftab Ali
Student Editor
Thursday 14 April 2016 10:50 BST

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Former students who hold degrees in the creative arts have been revealed as the nation’s lowest-paid graduates, according to a new report.

Those holding qualifications in subjects such as dance, drama, art and design, or music are, on average, earning no more ten years on from completing their studies than those who did not attend university at all.

Male creative arts grads were found to be earning just under £17,000 per year, while females are taking home just £12,400.

The findings have come to light after the Institute of Fiscal Studies (IFS) used anonymised tax data and student loan records for 260,000 students - dating back to 1998 - to look at how graduate earnings vary by university, degree subject, and parental income.

Those with degrees in veterinary sciences and agriculture-related subjects are the second lowest-paid graduates, followed by former mass communication students and those who hold degrees in other social studies and humanities subjects.

By contrast, medical students have emerged as being the highest earners ten years after graduation, followed by those who studied economics. For male medical grads, average annual earnings are about £50,000, while economics graduates pocket around £40,000.

For male economic grads, it is estimated that approximately 12 per cent earn above £100,000 ten years after graduation. By contrast, six per cent of those studying medicine or law earned more than £100,000.

For females, though, around nine per cent of economics graduates earned above £100,000 ten years after, whereas, just one percent of those studying medicine and three per cent of those studying law did so.

As well as highlighting how the subject studied at university affects pay, equality campaigners have criticised the stark differences in male and female pay, even if both graduated from the same course at the same university.

On average, ten years after graduation, male students are earning around £3,000 more than females.

The head of the National Union of Students (NUS), Megan Dunn, said it was “hugely disappointing” to see women earning less than men and said they are facing a “massive disadvantage” in the workplace.

She added: “The marketisation of education is failing students and graduates. NUS has always demanded social justice be at the forefront of education policy and we will continue to support students and campaign to close the gender pay gap.”

The Fawcett Society - which works on advancing women’s right and equality in Britain - has said that, despite 1970’s Equal Pay Act, women still earn less than men, adding: “The difference in pay between men and women remains the clearest and most dramatic example of inequality for women.”

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IFS said this is the first time “big data” has been used in such a way. The most surprising finding to have come from the study is that, on the whole, graduates from richer backgrounds are earning significantly more after graduation than their poorer counterparts, even after completing the same degrees from the same universities.

Universities Minister, Jo Johnson, said the Government accepted there was still a long way to go to improve social mobility, and added: “We have seen record application rates among students from disadvantaged backgrounds, but this latest analysis reveals the worrying gaps that still exist in graduate outcomes.

“We want to see this information used to improve the experience students are getting across the higher education sector.”

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