Starting salaries for graduates in professional jobs squeezed

Starting salaries for graduates in professional jobs squeezed

By David Jobbins

Which subjects offer the highest starting salary or graduate professional premium?

Starting salaries for graduates in occupations where a degree is considered necessary continue to be higher than those in other jobs, according to analysis of the latest official figures byTheCompleteUniversityGuide.co.uk.

  • But there has been a consistent squeeze over the past five years, with the premium in most subject areas down and only a minority showing an increase.

Out of 66 subjects for which full figures are available, the differential in starting salaries between professional and non-professional occupations reported by graduates during the annual Destinations of Leavers from Higher Education survey fell by 66% for East and South Asian Studies and by 44% for Sociology.

  • Differentials in a further ten subjects fell by 30–40%. Overall the gap narrowed by 14%.

The most dramatic widening of differentials was in Nursing, where there was an increase of 139%, followed by Electrical and Electronic Engineering on 59%.

  • Only five other subjects saw an improvement In the professional premium: Italian (37%), Computer Science (30%), Archaeology (26%), Physics & Astronomy (19%), and Russian (14%).
  • For 2014 graduates, the widest differentials are in Chemical and General Engineering, ranging from £11,736 to £12,530. The narrowest advantage is among graduates in Celtic Studies, Middle Eastern and African Studies and Music, where it ranges from £2,013 to £2,482.

The average across all 67 subjects surveyed (including General Engineering which is omitted from the time line) is £6,681.

  • Only 25 subjects compared by TheCompleteUniversityGuide.co.uk are above the average for professional employment of £22,057. These include Dentistry, Medicine and a handful of other subjects where a degree is a requirement.

Although the graduates surveyed were not liable for the full £9,000 a year tuition fees introduced in England in 2012, starting salaries in 34 subjects were above the £21,000 threshold for repayment of tuition fee loans, while 33 were below it.

View the tables:

Dr Bernard Kingston, principal author of TheCompleteUniversityGuide.co.uk, said: “Securing a job in a professional field still brings with it a higher starting salary. But there has been a continuing decline over the years in the majority of subjects.

“Only a handful have shown a widening of the differential between a graduate in a professional occupation compared with a graduate in the same subject in a non-professional one.

“As tuition fees of £9,250 a year become the rule in England, and with a loan replacing maintenance grants from 2016, starting salaries assume a particular significance when the threshold for repayment begins at £25,000.

“It appears it will be several years before many graduates start to pay off their loans.”

TheCompleteUniversityGuide.co.uk will be publishing further analyses of the graduate employment data, including its rankings of top graduate employers, over the next weeks.

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