University of Leicester eBulletin

New Research Reveals Earnings Potential of the Region's Graduates Compared to Non Graduates

June 2002
No 135



Young Graduates Earn Over 4,000 pa More Than Their Non Graduate Peers

Young people in the East Midlands seeking lifelong financial security should look to higher education according to new research out today (27 June, 2002) which reveals that the region's twenty-somethings in possession of a degree or equivalent earn over 25 per cent  (26.6 per cent) more than their peers who have no formal degree or equivalent qualifications.

This substantial earnings differential increases with age and by the time East Midlands graduates are aged 31-40, they can expect to earn 48.1 per cent more than their non graduate age peers, and a staggering 85.9 per cent more by age 41-50.

These figures, presented in the latest Graduate Market Trends report from CSU, the higher education Careers Services Unit, show that young graduates in the East Midlands aged 21-30 have average earnings of 19,663 compared to 15,533 for non graduates, a difference of 4,130 per annum.  By age 31-40, graduates earn 9,343 pa more (28,779 compared to 19,436), and by the time they reach 41-50 they earn on average 15,964 pa more (34,559 compared to 18,595).

Head of the Careers Service at the University of Leicester, Mr Martin Pennington, said: "These figures are good news for graduates in the East Midlands region and demonstrate that there are considerable financial rewards in choosing to study for a degree.

"However, there is more to a degree than that. Students today have to invest time and money into their education, often forfeiting more immediate gratification from taking a job in the interests of enhancing their qualifications. Indeed, they are likely to return to university again at different stages of their life in order to boost their careers.

"Education empowers them to cope with a changing world where no job is for life - but a degree is.  It equips them with the skills and knowledge they need allowing them to make a positive contribution to their chosen careers.

"The latest survey of University of Leicester graduates shows that 94% of known graduates went either straight into employment or decided to continue studying for a further qualification after leaving this University. Many of these graduates find well-paid and rewarding jobs after graduating with employers who value both the subject knowledge and the transferable skills that Leicester graduates bring to the workplace.

"However, the new figures in the Graduate Market Trends disguise the large differences that exist between the top graduate earners, often working for City financial companies and consultancies, and the more modest earnings of those, especially beyond the south-east, who choose to work for employers where the financial rewards are not so great, for example, in the public sector, small firms, and the voluntary sector.

"A University education has many benefits, both for the individual and for society generally. The University of Leicester is proud to produce graduates of all types who seek rewards and satisfaction in different but equally valuable ways."

Commenting on the CSU findings, CSU's chief executive, Mike Hill, said:

"Unlike jobs, a degree is for life and judging by these figures, higher education would appear to be a very financially worthwhile investment.  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 whilst still retaining an above average income."

Diana Warwick, Chief Executive of Universities UK said:

"This report once again 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."

Graduate Market Trends also highlights the latest graduate salary and vacancy details and reveals that the highest graduate starting salaries by type of work 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.

Whilst graduate vacancies in property and construction have risen by 17.3 per cent from the previous year, an increase attributed to the booming housing market, overall graduate vacancies have fallen as the demise of dotcoms, the after effects of foot and mouth on tourism and agricultural industries; and the downturn in US markets take their toll. Graduate salaries in the UK however, remain buoyant at 17,722 on average - virtually unchanged from the previous year. 

"It has been an economically difficult winter for graduate employers and many have been holding back with their recruitment to see how the economy recovers from this series of events.  Graduate recruitment in the public sector, however, appears particularly buoyant with many employers struggling to fill places.  This should help absorb some of the slack of the private sector. 

"Also, judging by attendance at the latest season of graduate recruitment fairs, always a reliable indicator of the graduate market, we are now seeing a reversal of fortunes and students can once again look to the employment market with real optimism," said Mike Hill.


The Prospects Today Salary and Vacancy Survey, featured in Graduate Market Trends, analyses vacancies in the CSU publication, Prospects Today, and utilises the largest sample of employers of graduates in the UK.  Employers are mainly SMEs and large blue chip companies.  Occupations which require additional qualifications, such as law, medicine and education, are not covered in this survey.

Graduate and non-graduate earnings by region of place of work information is taken from four quarters of the Labour Force Survey (LFS), from December 2000 to November 2001. The LFS is a random sample survey of households in the UK undertaken by the Office for National Statistics, covering around 15,000 households every quarter. For the purposes of this analysis, information on individuals' employment and educational background is used.

CSU, the higher education Careers Services Unit, produces over 800 different career guides, graduate marketplace reports and the Prospects Series of recruitment and postgraduate course directories and magazines, career planning software, web and online options to enhance the careers advice provided in higher education careers services.  All information is accessible on

For further information:

Graham Smith / Pat Hindley
Twelve Consultancy
Telephone: 020 8879 1234
Mobile: 07770 500 194

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