‘Golden triangle’ graduates ‘have highest earnings five years after degree’

By Alison Kershaw, PA Education Correspondent

Graduates of Oxbridge and top London universities typically have the highest earnings five years after gaining their degree, official figures suggest.

There is a significant earnings premium attached to attending an institution in the so-called “golden triangle”, data published by the Department for Education indicates.

And while graduates from some institutions may be earning upwards of £30,000 five years after leaving university, for others typical salaries are much lower.

A PA news agency analysis of the figures shows that, in 2016/17, out of 133 universities and colleges, one in five (20% – 27 institutions) five years after graduation, students had median earnings of more than £30,000 per annum.

Nearly half (47%) of institutions – 62 in total – had median earnings of less than £25,000, and 10 (8%) had typical salaries of below £20,000.

Outcomes were highest at the London School of Economics and Political Science, where students could typically expect to take home £44,000 five years after graduating.

The analysis shows that, of the 10 institutions with the highest median earnings, five were in London.

Along with LSE was Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine (£43,300), St George’s Hospital Medical School (£43,000), University College London (£36,500) and King’s College London (£35,700)

Also in the top 10 were both Cambridge (£38,800) and Oxford (£37,600).

Together, Oxbridge and top London universities are often referred to as a “golden triangle” in higher education.

Also in the top 10 for graduate earnings were Bristol (£35,900), Bath (£34,800) and Strathclyde (£33,700).

At the other end of the scale, a group of small, specialist institutions, typically focusing on a specific group of subjects, had the lowest graduate outcomes.

Among the large, mainstream universities, median earnings were lowest at the University of East London (£19,300) and London Metropolitan (£19,400).

The data does not take into account factors such as prior achievement, subject studied and other characteristics that could influence graduate outcomes.

Universities Minister Chris Skidmore said: “This data is a milestone for thousands of future students, helping them to work out whether university is for them, and where to study and work.

“I hope this will particularly help students from disadvantaged backgrounds who are often more likely to study in their home region, as the data shows the potential benefits of gaining a degree wherever you are.

“Of course earnings potential is just one factor for students, but we believe they should have all the facts to make their decision.

“It is important for young people to know that they will not only get a rich education at university, but that their degree will be good value for money.”

A London Met spokesman said: “Many of London Met’s graduates studied courses, such as social work or in the field of creative arts, which are of huge benefit to their communities but don’t necessarily lead to the highest paying careers.

“In addition, our commitment to widening access to education means around 70% of our students are from low-income households and around 65% are Black, Asian or Minority Ethnic, groups who are more likely to be underpaid in the workforce.

“As one of the most socially inclusive universities in the country, we are committed to challenging inequality of this kind and we are proud to be driving real social change and transformation in this country through the education we provide.”

An LSE spokesman said: “Many LSE graduates are successful in building careers in competitive, high-reward sectors. The School’s reputation for excellence, its demanding degree programmes and its highly engaged and motivated student body are just some of the reasons for this.”