Research from the Times Education Supplement shows that the average cost to a student of a 3-year degree is about £65,000, accounting for tuition and living expenses. Even with the financial support available and relaxed loan repayment plans, a three-year degree represents one of the most significant investments you are likely to make in your life.
As a result of this, students are more and more financially prudent when choosing their degree. They are now inclined to select those that are not only engaging but which promise a good long-term monetary return. So, which degree subjects have a high employment rate and the best salaries?
According to the Institute for Fiscal Studies, Medicine, Dentistry, Economics, Mathematics, and Engineering & Technology are the most lucrative degrees. They often lead to careers paying well above average earnings (£29,000), 5 years after completing the respective degree. While not as commercially rewarding, the second tier of degrees, including Computer Science, Architecture, Languages, and Law, also gives average-or-above earnings 5 years after graduation.
The university that you attend also determines your earning potential. Students who attend one of the well regarded 24 Russell Group Universities ( https://university.which.co.uk/advice/choosing-a-course/what-is-the-russell-group ) earn £35,000 a year on average, five years after graduation. That’s a massive £6,000 a year more than average earnings and 40% more than graduates from other universities.
Does this mean that graduates should avoid degrees like Arts & Design, Agriculture, and Education, which five years later lead to salaries considerably below average earnings? The answer is no, because the student repayment plans are means tested, so if your average lifetime salary is relatively modest you may not have to pay your loans back at all. Also, while jobs in education might not pay as well as others, there is a relatively high level of job security, particularly in Science and Mathematics, where we have seen teacher shortages recently.
Given what’s at stake financially, it makes sense to consider your long-term career plan when choosing your university subject. It will help you make more informed decisions and choose a course that best suits your financial goals and personal ambitions.
I am a practising HR consultant working with several start-ups on an ongoing and ad-hoc basis in the London and M4 area, and am a Chartered Member of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development or CIPD. I am the Director of thecareercafe.co.uk; thecareercafe.co.uk is a resource for start-ups and small business. It includes a blog containing career advice, small business advice articles, HR software reviews, and contains great resources such as HR Productivity Apps.