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Response to IFS report on graduate earnings

Lecturer and students working in a studio
Universities has responded to a study from the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) looking at the link between earnings and students’ background, degree subject and university attended.

The research found that graduates from richer family backgrounds earn significantly more after graduation than their poorer counterparts, even after completing the same degrees from the same universities.

Dame Julia Goodfellow, President of Universities UK and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Kent, said: “Across all universities and courses, graduates in the UK are still in a substantially better position in terms of obtaining jobs and, on average, they continue to earn substantially more than non-graduates.

“It is clear, however, that the role of family background and networks still play a role in how some graduates perform and progress in their careers.

“Universities offer advice, work experience, sandwich degree courses, degree apprenticeships and job placements to give students direct experience and access to employers. It is important also that all young people are given access to high-quality advice and guidance about higher education and career options. Some employers are also taking steps to address the impact of social background through 'CV-blind' recruitment and outreach work. Universities UK established a Social Mobility Advisory Group earlier this year to provide advice to government and support for English universities to improve access and long-term success for under-represented groups in higher education. It will look at many of the issues discussed in today's report. The Group will report its recommendations later this year, presenting them to government.

“Graduate earnings cannot however be used as the sole measure of success. As the report points out, there are now major regional differences in terms of average wages and many graduates choose to stay and work in their local regions. Some universities also train graduates for important jobs in nursing, the public sector and the arts, jobs we know that traditionally pay less on average but, make a critically important contribution to society and the economy.”

Key Contacts

Gareth Morgan

Gareth Morgan

Media Relations Manager
Universities UK

Clara Plackett

Clara Plackett

Press and Social Media Officer
Universities UK


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