Graduate pay disparities blamed on old boy network

Working class graduates from good universities go on to earn
less than their fellow graduates due to the old boys’ network, new research

The Council for Industry and Higher Education (CIHE) shows
that graduates earn very different amounts depending on the institution they
attended, the subject studied and their social background.

Those from lower social groups earned less, irrespective of
the institution they attended. So even those who graduated from Oxbridge in
1985 and 1990 earned on average about 16 per cent less than those from
professional families.

Oxbridge graduates earned about 8 per cent more than
graduates from an ‘old’ university, while those who had attended a newer
institution earned about 3 to 8 per cent less (depending on the year of

On average, men with degrees in mathematics, engineering,
economics and law earned more than 20 per cent more than someone with two or
more A-levels three years after leaving university. But men with arts degrees
had, on average, a 4 per cent wages penalty.

On average, women with degrees in ‘health’, mathematics,
architecture, economics and law earned about 40 per cent more than women with
two or more A- levels.

"There are some important messages here for potential
students and those who advise them", said Richard Brown, chief executive
of CIHE.

"There are also implications for government policy.
Just getting students from poor communities and comprehensive schools into
so-called ‘top’ universities will not ensure they then get the best jobs.
Employers have to play their part in persuading prospective students that it is
worth their while to invest in learning. They should consider their recruitment
policies, the business benefits of having a diverse labour force that can
relate to an equally diverse range of customers and the ethics of
discriminating (however unwittingly) against older graduates or those from
different social groups. There is a danger that some employers just recruit in
their own image."

By Quentin Reade

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