University Alliance comments on new graduate earnings data

University Alliance has responded to new research by the Institute for Fiscal Studies on the impact of universities on graduates earnings by 29 – broken down course-by-course and institution-by-institution.

The report [LINK] commissioned by the Department for Education (DfE), found attending the university increases women’s earnings by 26% and men’s by 6% compared to non-graduates – but found this varies “hugely” by degree choice and students’ prior attainment and background.

Ministers [LINK] have been clear Office for Students should “crack down on institutions delivering poor outcomes for students… and use the full range of powers at [its] disposal to protect students’ interests”.

Liz Bromley, Acting CEO of University Alliance said:
“University Alliance has always championed the maximum transparency within our education system and hope that this latest data from the IfS will add to the body of information that helps students make judgements about their future. 
“As with all statistics however, it is important to look at them in context, and account for the caveats which apply.
“A person’s income is impacted by a huge range of factors – not least background, economic cycles and chosen career – and may also change dramatically in the future. In particular, it is clear from these figures that prior attainment remains a huge contributory factor to a graduate’s earning power.
“It is also worth remembering that these figures are a snapshot of someone’s financial performance at the age of 29, following completion of what is usually a three year degree. The average 29 year old today is likely to work for a further 39 years until they reach the standard retirement age and during this time an increasing number will engage in the kinds of re-skilling and lifelong learning projects that Alliance universities excel at.
“Whilst tempting to confuse correlation and causation with a data set like this, it is always important to interrogate any findings and take into account the various contributing factors. This will ensure that useful data and tools such as this are truly useful guides for students and others when thinking about our universities. We should also remember that whilst economic outcomes are of course important, there is also an inherent value in education, both for the individual and for the nation, which is more difficult to measure, but equally precious”.

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