Post-92s record first drop in median graduate salaries

Longitudinal Education Outcomes data has been published annually since 2017

July 23, 2023
Source: iStock

Average salaries for graduates of some of the UK’s most prestigious universities have risen, figures suggest, in contrast with those from post-92 institutions, which saw a significant drop.

The latest annual Longitudinal Education Outcomes (LEO) dataset details outcomes in the 2020-21 tax year for UK-domiciled first-degree students one, three and five years after they graduated.

The latest median salaries were £27,000 for graduates of the 2014-15 academic year, £24,500 for 2016-17 graduates and £21,200 for those in 2018-19.

The median wage for one year after graduation was unchanged across the sector from the year before, but Times Higher Education analysis has found significant differences between types of provider.

Across Russell Group universities, average salaries increased by 3 per cent, from £24,500 to £25,200.

But they were just £19,700 at post-92 institutions – a 2 per cent drop, and the first fall since comparable records began in 2012-13.

The Department for Education (DfE), which publishes the data, said that the 2020-21 tax year overlapped with the Covid-19 pandemic, which meant earnings and employment outcomes for some graduates would have been negatively affected.

Statisticians also said that the figures did not control for differences in the characteristics of graduates.

Median salaries for 2018-19 graduates ranged from £37,400 at St George’s Hospital Medical School to £11,300 at the Royal College of Music.

The lowest 10 positions on the LEO list for earnings were all occupied by arts or music colleges.

A majority of institutions that had data for the last two years saw a fall in salaries for students who had graduated one year before – including many Russell Group members.

The University of Cambridge, the University of Warwick, the University of York and the University of Exeter all saw their first recorded falls in median salaries in the 2020-21 tax year.

The statistics also showed that Cambridge was home to the most unequal distribution of graduate earnings.

One year after finishing their studies, the average computing graduate was earning £50,200 in 2020-21 – significantly more than the £16,400 for their peers in performing arts.

While the LEO figures suggest that computing students could expect to earn some of the biggest wages, they also showed the largest difference between providers – ranging from £50,400 at Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine to £17,300 at the University of the Arts London.

By contrast, the smallest range was for those studying combined studies – varying between £26,600 at the University of Bath and £17,700 at the University of Liverpool.

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