Graduates have much greater earning potential than non-graduates according to a new survey released today (June 27).
The Graduate Market Trends report from CSU, the higher education careers services unit, reported that a graduate typically earns over £6,000 more than a colleague without a degree between the age of 21 and 30.
The figures show that young graduates aged 21-30 have annual average earnings of £22,302 compared to £15,948 for non graduates, a difference of £6,354 per annum. By age 31-40, graduates earn £12,953 more (£33,472 compared to £20,519), and by the time they reach 41-50, they earn on average £14,558 more (£34,958 compared to £20,400).
"Unlike jobs, a degree is for life and judging by these figures, higher education would appear to be a very financially worthwhile investment,” said CSU's chief executive Mike Hill. “This news will also be a timely boost for final year students who are predicted to graduate this summer with average debts approaching £10,000.
“These considerable earnings differentials suggest that graduates could discharge student loans within a comparatively short time following graduation while still retaining an above average income."
The report added that graduates typically earn 40 per cent more than non-graduates between the ages of 21 and 30. That rose to 63 per cent for the 31-40 age group and 71.4 per cent for the 41-50 group.
Diana Warwick, chief executive of Universities UK, said: "This report highlights the value of a university degree. In a time of uncertainty over jobs in general, it is clear that those who undertake a university education are excellently placed to meet the challenges and reap the rewards of a rapidly changing knowledge-based and competitive market place."
The report also revealed that the highest graduate starting salaries by sector are found in management consultancy (average £19,726), IT (£18,835), and engineering and technology service (£18,717).
Employers seeking graduates from 'any science', 'any numerate discipline', 'any computer related subject' and 'electronic engineering' also offered mean salaries of more than £19,000.
Hill added: “Students can once again look to the employment market with real optimism."