But demand for first-class degrees in rapid decline
University graduates in the UK are likely to earn up to £500,000 more during their working life, than those who don’t have a degree, research has revealed.
Jobseekers who didn’t go to university should expect to earn up to £15,000 less per annum, compared to their undergraduate or postgraduate comparisons, which amounts to an average of half a million pound deficit over a lifetime.
These are the findings from job search engine Adzuna, that analysed more than 800,000 live jobs, to reveal the difference in starting salaries between vacancies for university graduates and jobs that didn’t require a degree.
The research shows that there were 54,206 jobs available on the Adzuna database to graduates in June 2014 across the UK, with nearly 250,000 graduates competing for these positions.
Graduate salaries in Eastern England rank amongst the highest in the UK, largely attributed to a science and technology business boom in the area. The highest paid entry-level roles can be found in Cambridge and Aberdeen with an average starting salary of £42,000 p.a.
Meanwhile graduates in Sunderland and Hull can expect to earn less that the national average salaries. These cities were noted as the worst paying for graduate places.
While the number of job opportunities for graduates with 2:1 and 2:2 degrees is increasing, according to Adzuna demand for first class degrees has fallen by 80 per cent since 2012.
This is in line with recent figures from the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA), which showed that graduating with a first-class degree now makes little difference to a jobseeker’s prospects. Just 18.3 per cent of university leavers with first-class degrees were in fixed-term contract employment six months after graduation and 2.7 per cent were temping.
Perhaps surprisingly, 3.4 per cent of first class degree holders decided to go it alone after university and chose self-employment over working for an organisation.
The level of degree awarded made little or no difference to graduates’ destination, according to the HESA research. Of those with a first-class degree, 2.5 per cent were taking an internship, and 2.6 per cent of graduates with a 2:1 were also interning. Similarly 1.7 per cent of graduates with a 2:2 and 1.5 per cent of those leaving with a third went on to do an internship.
Experts questioned whether the first-class degree had been devalued, but Andrew Hunter, co-founder of Adzuna, said it would provide more opportunity for university leavers entering the world of work.
“In June 2014, Adzuna data shows graduate salaries turning a corner, with the highest year-on-year salary increase (5 per cent) of any sector in the UK. And the good news for graduates doesn’t stop there, as employers increasingly open up top jobs to candidates with the right attitude, regardless of their final degree classification,” he said.
Source: CIPD on line