Britain's highest paying degrees, according to graduate salary revealed

Ashley Kirk
Britain's highest paying degrees, according to graduate salary

In an age where students have to fork out large tuition fees, the courses - like law, business and economics - that result in the highest graduate salaries are becoming increasingly attractive.

With the exam season coming to an end and the Oxbridge deadline, as well as that for courses in medicine, veterinary science and dentistry, on the horizon in October, it's time to start weighing up universities options.

While monetary earnings aren't everything in a degree, it's important to know the sorts of graduate salaries you can expect to earn after graduating - and there are some big discrepancies depending on what you choose.

It is certainly true that some courses at top universities can give you some of the highest paying degrees, adding tens of thousands to the average starting salary.

But some of the highest paying jobs actually come from some lesser known institutions, with engineering, computer science and business graduates from a wide variety of universities punching above their weight.

Use the tool below to compare which courses delivered the highest earnings five years after graduating. It contains a couple of entries that are likely to be fairly surprising.

The highest paying university degrees

The latest figures from the Department for Education show that the course with the highest graduate salary is business and management from Oxford University.

Those who graduated from this course after the 2010/11 academic year earned an average £74,100 five years after graduation.

Oxford dominates the top three this year with Computing (£67,900) and Law (£67,200) coming second and third respectively.

Oxbridge and Russell Group courses are reliably found at the top of theses rankings and the same is true this year with business and management at Bath the only non-Russell Group course in the top 10.

What about the highest graduate salary after one year?

While looking at highest paying jobs a year after graduation is not the ideal way of measuring the true earnings of a specific course or institution, we can still glean an indication of a course’s potential.

The most lucrative course is surprising when we look at figures this way. All the big name universities are beaten by a little known institution from east London.

According to figures from the Department for Education, engineering and technology students from Havering College of Further and Higher Education command a higher average salary than graduates of any other course in Britain a year after graduating.

The course had 35 students in 2015-16, with this cohort achieving an impressive median salary of £54,400 in 2015-16. 

This is more than £10,000 ahead of The London Institute of Banking & Finance 's business graduates in second place.

Medicine graduates tend to get jobs that pay well

Medicine has retained its title as the degree subject attracting the highest average graduate salary, according to the figures.

While some economics and business courses might bring in the most money individually, the average medicine graduate was earning £46,600 five years after completing their course - the highest of any subject.

At the other end of the spectrum people graduating with creative arts degrees had the lowest average salaries, standing at just £20,600 five years after graduation.

How big an impact does a specific course actually make on earnings?

When looking at graduate salaries it is important to note that many things go into determining the earnings potential of a graduate.

Oxford and Cambridge come at the top end of the table for graduate salaries but a large part of this is due to the fact that they select some of the best students to take their courses. The true extent to which the university has boosted their earning potential is therefore not immediately apparent.

Last year the IFS (the Institute For Fiscal Studies) sought to answer this conundrum by measuring earnings after accounting for things like prior attainment, socioeconomic background, region and ethnicity.

After doing this they concluded that studying at the most prestigious universities did, in fact, result in higher earnings. LSE had the greatest effect and was responsible for a 49 per cent boost in wages for men and 37 per cent for women compared to the average graduate.

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