Starting salaries for graduates in professional jobs squeezed
By David Jobbins
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:
- Top ten subjects with the highest graduate professional premium – 2014 graduates
- Subjects with the lowest graduate professional premium – 2014 graduates
- Subjects showing the greatest increase in graduate professional premium, 2009–14
- Subjects showing the greatest reduction in graduate professional premium, 2009–14
- Full table of graduate starting salaries
- Full table of graduate professional premiums
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 £9,000 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 £21,000.
“It appears it will be several years before many graduates start to pay off their loans.”