Miércoles 15 de Junio de 2005, Ip nº 113

Worth of degree fallen to £150,000, research shows
Por Matthew Taylor

The financial value of a university degree has fallen sharply in the past decade as more graduates enter the job market, research shows.
The study by academics at the University of Swansea shows that graduates can now expect to earn £150,000 more over the course of their careers than those who do not go to university, rather than the £400,000 ministers claimed during the debate last year on university top-up fees, which will be introduced in September 2006. The National Union of Students said it was not surprised by the findings.

"The government used the £400,000 figure to convince people that students should pay the fees because their future earnings meant they would be able to afford it," said Hannah Essex, an NUS vice-president.

"We always suspected that the figure was inaccurate. This shows that for many graduates it [a degree] is not about earning more money, it's about getting the skills to do jobs that benefit society. As such it is crucial that society pays for people, especially those from non-typical backgrounds, to have the chance to fulfil their potential by continuing their studies."

The study found that female graduates, who on average earn £158,000 more than non-graduates during their working lifetime, benefit more than university-educated men, who on average earn £142,000 more than non-graduates. Male arts graduates came out bottom in the study, earning less in their careers than those who started work without a degree.

Maths and computing graduates fared best, earning on average about £225,000 more than non-graduates. The study also found that the university and the class of degree had a significant impact on earnings. Nigel O'Leary, one of the co-authors, said:

"There has been a big increase in the number of graduates in the labour market, and although demand for their skills has also increased, supply has outstripped demand." However, he said that a degree was still financially worthwhile.

"Although the rate of return has fallen for a degree, it is still a real and sizeable benefit, especially if you chose the right subject and the right university."

A spokeswoman for the Department for Education and Skills said the findings made "interesting reading", but that direct comparisons with the £400,000 figure were misleading because of differences in the way that the two sets of data were collected.

  02/06/2005. The Guardian.