Privately educated gain £1,500 salary premium

Schooldays have an influence on graduate pay, according to report from Institute for Fiscal Studies

October 30, 2014

State school-educated graduates are earning significantly less than their privately educated peers, even when they are employed in the same roles, a report has found.

Part of the difference is explained by the fact that people who are privately schooled are more likely to attend “prestigious” universities and tend to study subjects that are more highly rewarded in terms of graduate earnings, according to the research published by the Institute for Fiscal Studies.

However, even among graduates who went to the same university, studied the same subject and left with the same class of degree, those who went to private schools still earn 7 per cent more than state-educated students three and a half years after graduation.

Earnings differences also persist within individual occupations, with private-school graduates earning 6 per cent more than state-school peers working in the same jobs. This is equivalent to about £1,500 extra per year, the report finds.

Across all graduates who are in work three and a half years after leaving university, those who attended a private school earned an average of 17 per cent more than those who did not.

“There is a pressing need to understand why private schooling confers such an advantage in the labour market, even amongst similarly achieving graduates, and why higher education does not appear to be the leveller it was hoped to be,” the report says.

Claire Crawford, assistant professor of economics at the University of Warwick and one of the authors of the report, said: “Education is often regarded as a route to social mobility. But our research shows that, even among those who succeed in obtaining a degree, family background – and in particular the type of school they went to – continues to influence their success in the workplace.”

The Nuffield Foundation-funded research looked at earnings data from the Higher Education Statistics Agency’s Destination of Leavers from Higher Education surveys of graduates who left university in 2007.

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