Biggest winners and losers from degrees

Wednesday 05th December 2018 04:33 EST

Women studying maths at Oxford and men taking economics at Bristol get the biggest increase in earnings from going to university, says an analysis of salaries at the age of 29.

The study, from the Department for Education and Institute for Fiscal Studies, says women are much more likely to gain from getting a degree.

Women with a degree earn on average 28% more than non-graduate women.

Men with degrees earn an average of 8% more than non-graduates.

But a third of men go to universities which give them only a "negligible" pay advantage, despite the cost of fees. The lowest for earnings for men is studying philosophy at Sussex - and for women it is computing at Westminster. The report, based on tax records of people who went to school in England and then went to university in England, Wales or Scotland, looks at how going to university might affect earnings. Setting aside any social benefits, it's asking if it's worth the cash, when graduates are leaving with an average of £50,000 of debt. A woman with a degree on average earns £6,700 more per year than a non-graduate woman - with women improving their earnings for almost every course at every university.

But the difference is much narrower for men, with a male graduate on average earning £2,700 more than a non-graduate.

There are tougher questions for the one-third of men who go to universities which give "negligible or negative impact" on earnings compared with those without a degree.

The report says getting a degree is clearly an "excellent investment" for women, because their earnings are so much higher than non-graduate women.

Much of this is because women without degrees are particularly likely to be low earners - and so the gap between them and graduates is likely to be wider.

This could be because women without degrees are likely to be in particularly low-paid jobs.

But another factor is that non-graduate women in their 20s are twice as likely to be working part-time as women with degrees.

This could be because women who do not go to university tend to have children earlier than graduate women.

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