The impact of undergraduate degrees on early-career earnings

Document type
Belfield, Chris; Britton, Jack; Buscha, Franz
Institute for Fiscal Studies
Date of publication
27 November 2018
Employment, Education and Skills, Children and Young People
Social welfare
Material type

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This report uses the new Longitudinal Educational Outcomes (LEO) administrative dataset to provide the latest estimates of the impact of Higher Education (HE) on individuals’ early-career earnings after accounting for individuals’ pre-university characteristics. This will provide vital evidence for prospective students choosing whether, where and what to study at university.

It estimates the overall average impact of attending HE on earnings at age 29, and shows how this varies for individuals studying different degree subjects or at different Higher Education Institutions (HEIs), based on those who went to HE in the mid- to late-2000s. This report also investigates how these returns might differ for students with different prior attainment, based on their GCSE results and whether or not they studied a maths or science (‘STEM’) A-level. It focuses on those who start HE, rather than just on HE graduates, as this is the relevant decision facing prospective students.

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