Degree holders are likely to earn a whopping £500,000 more during their overall working life than someone who did not attend university. According to figures from jobs search engine Adzuna, those with a degree can earn £15,000 more a year when they start their degree than those who have graduated.
Interestingly, engineering, computer science and maths graduates benefit from the best average salaries in the market, ranging from £40,000 to £45,000. At the other end of the scale, degrees in hospitality and tourism make a worse investment for university leavers as they pay off an average £18,000.
The UK Job Market
According to Adzuna’s analysis of the employment market, last June, there were 54, 206 jobs available to university graduates across the UK, with nearly 250,000 graduates competing for these vacancies – which translates into 4.38 applicants per position.
This ratio was far higher in London and the South East, where more than 30 degree holders were pursuing each position. The competition in these areas was fiercer than other areas given that the average starting salary in these regions was roughly amounting to £28,000, some £3,000 above the national average.
Other highly lucrative graduate jobs across the country are concentrated particularly in the area of ‘Silicon Fen’ in Cambridge, where there is a high demand for graduates with science and technology backgrounds as well as Aberdeen, which is a major oil and energy hub. University leavers can make up to £42,000 for their first job in these areas.
On the contrary, the worst paying cities for graduate jobs were found to be Sunderland and Hull, where pay seems to be less than the national average pay rate.
Not all Highest-Paying Jobs are Reserved for Graduates
The report has also shown that not going to university does not necessarily disqualify graduates from a landing a well-paid job. Jobs in mining construction for example top the non-graduate pay list, with an average salary of £69,578 – almost as triple as much the average UK salary. Equity trading, commodity trading and offshore oil platform work also rank highly, with average pay of up to £63,000.
Opting for degree-level apprenticeships can be an ideal alternative to university education given that young people are paid instead of having to pay. Also, apparently this option could lead to a significant Return on Investment, taking into consideration the high returns that certain non-degree jobs offer. A recent Sutton Trust study revealed that 34% of people consider a degree-level apprenticeship better for somebody’s career prospects than a university degree, against 21% who deem a university degree to be more useful.
What Employers Expect of Graduates
Nowadays, employers have become less picky about candidates’ final degree class. The number of bosses demanding first has decreased by 80% over the last two years. The co-founder of Adzuna noted “In June 2014, Adzuna data shows graduate salaries turning a corner, with the highest year-on-year salary increase of any sector in the UK, increasing by 5%...And the good news for graduates doesn’t stop there, as employers increasingly open up top jobs to candidates with the right attitude, regardless of their final degree classification.”
All in all, the findings of the report show that university education is still worth the investment, despite the fact that higher education fees remain high. Jobseekers with a degree are far more likely to secure a more competitive pay over those who don’t have a degree.