Oxbridge graduates still top earnings league

Graduates from Oxbridge and Cambridge enjoy the highest lifetime earnings compared to others obtaining degrees from leading UK universities, according to new research.

Oxford University
The study by the Sutton Trust educational think-tank found that, on average, an Oxbridge graduate would earn £10,000 more every working year of his or her life than a graduate from university not in the Russell Group, which represents the nation's top two dozen universities.Oxford and Cambridge, the study said, will earn an average of £46,000 annually over their lives, compared to £41,000 by other Russell Group graduates, and just under £36,000 by graduates from other universities. By contrast, those leaving education with A-levels at the age of 18 will earn an average salary of £23,000 over their lifetime, while those with no qualifications will earn less than £16,000.However, the report also found that top apprentices can expect to earn considerably more during their lifetimes than many university graduates and argued that a cultural change was needed to raise the status of vocational courses.Sir Peter Lampl, the trust chairman, said, "Today's report shows that the best apprenticeships offer similar financial security as an undergraduate degree."Although the government's target for apprenticeships to 2020 is three million, we've only had 30,000 higher apprenticeships in the last two years. We need more good apprenticeships to offer genuine alternatives to A-levels and degrees.We also need to tackle the ingrained negative culture of apprenticeships that exists amongst teachers, parents and young people alike."The report said that young people completing a Level 5 higher apprenticeship –equivalent to a foundation degree course – will earn around £1.44 million over their lifetime, almost £52,000 more than a student who studies at a non-Russell Group university.Compiled by the Boston Consulting Group, the figures take into account the cost of attending university, including average student debt levels, and the ability of apprentices to earn while they learn.The report says that about 10,000 higher apprenticeships are undertaken each year but that the majority of apprenticeships on offer are at only Level 2, which "offer little value for the apprentice and only marginally better lifetime earnings than secondary school qualifications alone".An opinion poll within the report 80 per cent of young people considering university said they believed that that getting a degree would be better for their career prospects than an apprenticeship.Sir Peter said, "If undergraduate degrees are seen as a gold standard, these vocational qualifications are too often seen as second best or a fall-back option. Success can come through apprenticeships, but work is needed to boost their quantity and quality and change their public perception."Reacting to the study, a spokesman for the Business Department said, "A traditional university degree or apprenticeship are equally valid routes to rewarding careers. We are committed to delivering three million apprenticeships by 2020 and are increasing the number of Higher and Degree Apprenticeships within that so more young people can gain advanced technical skills employers want and need."Our ongoing reforms are driving up the quality of apprenticeships at all levels and incentivising teaching excellence in higher education to ensure whatever route young people choose, they have the highest quality skills that industry needs."Don't miss the Re:locate Guide to International Education & Schools, published Autumn 2015 For more Re:locate news and features on Education & Schools, click here

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