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Which University Degrees Are Worth The Most?

imperial college london

With thousands of students graduating over the summer months and bagging shiny new graduate jobs many young people will be looking forward to their first post-university paycheck. But which graduates will have the biggest pay packet?

To find out, we took a look at over 155,000 CVs belonging to graduates in their first five years of post-degree work experience and determined their pay potential.*

Use our Value my Degree tool to find out how much your degree is worth.

Imperial College London Graduates Worth The Most In First Year

The study revealed that students from Imperial College London are the most valuable in their first year after graduation with earning potential of over £37,000 – almost £4,750 more than second placed King’s College London (£32,270). London’s strong showing continued with UCL (University College London) coming in fourth, sandwiched between the country’s most prestigious universities, Oxford and Cambridge. The remaining universities in the top 10 all came from the Russel Group.

University Average earning potential in first year beyond graduation
Imperial College London £37,006
Kings College London £32,270
Oxford £31,584
UCL £30,935
Cambridge £30,680
Edinburgh £30,538
LSE £30,268
Exeter £30,088
York £29,997
Bristol £29,102

Degrees From LSE See Biggest Growth In Value

Meanwhile, those graduating from the London School of Economics can look forward to the quickest pay progression – students from this university boost their earning potential by 38% on average within five years of getting their degree. Graduates from Nottingham, Borunemouth and London Met can also expect their salaries to grow by at least a third in their first five years of work.

Interestingly, only four Russel Group Universities make the top 10 table for average salary growth, showing that grads from non-Russel Group universities can quickly climb the salary ladder.

University Average earning potential in first year beyond graduation Average earning potential at five years beyond graduation Average salary growth
LSE £30,268 £41,810 38.1%
Nottingham £26,548 £36,556 37.7%
Bournemouth £24,230 £32,717 35%
London Met £24,147 £32,574 34.9%
Durham £25,835 £34,317 32.8%
Sheffield £26,425 £34,834 31.8%
Birmingham City £23,232 £30,408 30.9%
Lancaster £25,332 £32,660 28.9%
Sheffield Hallam £24,678 £31,500 27.6%
Leicester £25,381 £32,285 27.2%

A Distinguished University Can Boost Your Salary Starting Point

Commenting on the findings Doug Monro, co-founder of Adzuna, had this to say:Having a distinguished university on your CV can seriously boost your salary starting point. Imperial College London alumni are top of the pile, commanding an annual premium of nearly £17,000 over those with no degree. Their earning potential even outstrips Oxbridge, with salaries typically £5,500 more than Oxford grads and £6,300 higher than Cambridge grads. Studying at any Russell Group university adds serious value to earning potential, but the research also shows grads from other institutions, including Bournemouth and London Met, are better at catapulting themselves up the salary rankings.

With almost all UK universities charging maximum tuition fees of £9,000 a year, students are rightly concerned with getting the best bang for their buck, and the current debate asking if the fees should be scrapped throws the value of higher education further into the spotlight. Degrees now come with a hefty price-tag, but while the costs of studying are largely even the earning potential of graduates is more imbalanced.”


* The value of every individual university ranked in this study is based on a sample size of at least 50 CVs. Analysis was cut down to the top 150 universities only to ensure the accuracy of results.

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