Universities UK report demonstrates economic benefits of a degree

The report shows that the gross additional lifetime earnings is now approximately £160,000 or between 20 and 25% more for individuals with a higher education qualification than for those with two or more A-levels.

The main findings include:

·Financial benefit is greatest for men from lower socio-economic groups or from families from lower levels of income

·The rate of return to the individual would be expected to rise from 12.1% to 13.2% following changes to the student finance package arising from the introduction of variable tuition fees

·The benefits associated with HE qualifications increase as graduates get older

·Graduates are more likely to be employed compared to those with the next highest qualification and are more likely to return to employment following periods in unemployment or economic inactivity

·Significant costs associated with higher education are borne by the state

The report looks at a number of factors when assessing the benefits of a higher education qualification, including gender, socio-economic group and subject of qualification. The benefits are also discussed in the context of a wide number of non-financial benefits such as health, reduced crime rates and social cohesion.

Diana Warwick, Chief Executive, Universities UK: “We already know that graduates in the UK enjoy one of the highest financial returns of any OECD country. This report provides evidence that despite the expansion of higher education, the graduate premium has been maintained. Higher education is still clearly a worthwhile investment for the individual.

“While we know of course that the vast majority of graduates don’t measure the value of their degrees in purely economic terms, the enhanced career opportunities and employability that a degree brings is nevertheless a key factor in deciding whether to go on to higher education.”

Professor Drummond Bone, President, Universities UK, added: “This report also highlights the economic benefits of higher education for our wider society. As such, it adds to the evidence put forward in our submission to the Government’s Spending Review 2007, supporting our call for continued public investment in higher education.”

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Ian Morton alfa

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