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99% of women who attend university see significantly positive returns by age 29

university employment law

With tuition fees now up to £9,250 per year in England, many people are now facing the tough decision of whether gaining a higher education is worth it. A new study published by the Institute for Fiscal Studies, however, has reported that women who do not go to university earn more than a quarter less than women with a degree.

Earning Gap between Graduates and Non-Graduates

By the time women reach the age of 29, the average earnings gap between women who attended higher education and those who did not was 26 per cent. For men, on the other hand, the difference in earnings was just six per cent.

Looking at those women who graduated, the earnings gap then rose to 28 per cent, earning an average of £6,700 more per year than non-graduate women. The difference between graduate men and those without a higher education also rose to eight per cent, with an average salary of £2,700 more than men without degrees.

Women graduates are earning roughly £31,000 on average by the age of 29, versus the £37,000 their male peers receive.

Degree subject and its monetary value for men and women in the UK

The report - entitled The impact of undergraduate degrees on early-career earnings - also discovered that the subject choice of a degree had less of a financial effect on women than it did for men. A diverse range of degree courses was looked at – such as social care, creative arts, history, engineering and economics – and each course was seen to have a positive effect on a woman’s age 29 earnings compared with female individuals who had at least 5 A*-Cs, but no higher education.

Studying medicine, for example, saw an increase in earnings of 75% for women compared to those who do not have a degree. Studying creative arts, the lowest paid degree in the study, the graduate women still saw a 9% monetary increase to those who did not attend university. The report proved that regardless of the degree, each woman had a more positive monetary value than females who did not attend higher education.

However, the same results cannot be said for men. A third of men who studied the same courses found that their degree would have negligible monetary value. Men with degrees in areas such as Social Care and Communications were found to make less than those male individuals who did not attend University but had at least 5 A*-Cs. This was most evident with studying creative arts where men’s earnings at age 29 were actually reduced by an average of 14% compared with men who did not attend University. Like women, economics too proved the most lucrative and attractive degree for men.

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