University Degrees: Impact on Lifecycle of Earnings

impact of university study

The study compares the earnings (and employment) of people who have a first degree (and 2 or more A-levels) with those with 2 or more A-levels and no higher education degree, irrespective of the subsequent qualifications.
The predicted private benefit of a degree in lifetime earnings (net of tax and loan repayments) is around £168k for men and £252k for women. They estimate the social benefit to the government at between £264k – £318k.
They were primarily interested in:

  • the differences in the impact of a degree across subjects
  • the impact of post-graduate qualifications
  • the impact of degree quality
  • the impact of a degree obtained by part time study
  • the impact of a degree obtained later in life (as opposed to straight after school)

Some interesting findings include:

  • that part-time study only has a small positive effect on the probability of having a high income after 42 months.
  • They estimate: “very substantial effects of a degree on the net present value of the life cycle of incomes.”
  • They also suggest that there are not large differences in the returns of different types of higher education institutes.

Find the paper here.

Community Research


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