University defends academic degrees over claim that graduates receive “paltry returns”

The University of Lincoln have responded to claims made by the chairman of the Education Select Committee that many graduates receive “paltry returns”.

Robert Halfon, MP for Harlow, called for an end to the UK’s “obsession with full academic degrees” and says the labour market does not need an ever-growing supply of academic degrees.

National studies have shown that graduates typically have higher employment rates than non-graduates and earn substantially more on average over their lifetime than those without a degree. Photo by: Connor Creaghan

A spokesperson for the University of Lincoln responded, saying that the graduates typically earn more in their lifetime than those without a degree.

“The University of Lincoln has excellent graduate prospects with 95% of our most recent graduates in work or further study six months after finishing their course and almost three quarters in graduate level roles.

“National studies have shown that graduates typically have higher employment rates than non-graduates and earn substantially more on average over their lifetime than those without a degree.”

Universities UK, said: “Official figures are clear that, on average, university graduates continue to earn substantially more than non-graduates and are more likely to be in employment. A university degree remains an excellent investment.

“We must, however, be careful to avoid using graduate salaries as the single measure of success in higher education. Many universities specialise in fields such as the arts, the creative industries, nursing and public sector professions that, despite making an essential contribution to society and the economy, pay less on average.

“University graduates are also in increasing demand from employers. The latest survey from the Institute of Student Employers revealed that the graduate jobs market is expected to grow this year, with an estimated 11 per cent rise in vacancies. If the country is to thrive, it needs more, not fewer, skilled graduates.”

Research by the Institute for Fiscal Studies published in 2015 showed that median average earnings of graduates 10 years after finishing university were double that of non-graduates for men, and three times higher among women.

A Government (BIS) analysis published in 2013 estimated the impact on ‘lifecycle net earnings’ of having a degree is 28% for men (£168k) and 53% for women (£252k).

A 2016 report by the Institute for Fiscal Studies showed that despite the expansion of UK higher education over the last 20 years, the difference between graduate and non-graduate (school leavers) average wages had remained largely unchanged at approximately 35%.

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