One in four graduates in work a decade after leaving university in 2004 is earning only around £20,000 a year, according to a new study.
The LEO survey, (which is not adjusted for inflation,) reveals that the median earnings for a graduate were £16,500 one year on from when they left university in 2004, increasing to £22,000 after three years and rising to £31,000 in 2014. The lowest quartile of graduate earners fared significantly worse. A year after they graduated in 2004 their median earnings were just £11,500, rising to £16,500 after three years and £20,000 after 10. The average wage in Britain is currently £26,500.
“The statistics are fairly clear,” said Alice Barnard, chief executive officer of the education charity the Edge Foundation, which champions vocational education. “Immediately after graduation, many graduates are either in jobs that didn’t require a degree or didn’t require the level of education they had got themselves to. They have invested not only time, energy and effort but also quite a lot of money and potentially come out the other side without the jobs they perhaps expected to get.” Barnard pointed out that an apprentice who completes a two-year course with Jaguar Land Rover can expect to be earning around £30,000 immediately, without having incurred any debt. “Ten years down the line, if you’re earning a huge amount you can say, ‘well, I do feel that was value for money because my degree has taken me to this point’,” she said. “What is concerning perhaps is that, 10 years after, graduate salaries stand at £31,000, which for a higher apprenticeship for companies like Jaguar Land Rover is fairly common after, say, two years.”