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Starting salaries for graduate jobs fall

Starting salaries for graduate-type occupations have fallen overall over the past five years, according to analysis for The Complete University Guide.

The average starting salary for graduates in professional employment dropped by 11 per cent, from £24,293 to £21,702 in real terms between 2007 and 2012.

The research, based on returns to the Destination of Leavers from Higher Education (DLHE), shows that the decline in starting salaries for graduate-type jobs is continuing and perhaps increasing. Over the period
from 2005-10, graduate-type starting salaries declined by 4 per cent, after adjustment for inflation.

Only two subject areas – Materials Technology and Librarianship and Information Management – showed an increase in starting salaries, of 13 per cent and 3 per cent respectively.

All other subject areas where there were sufficient data for analysis saw starting salaries fall by 2 per cent for General Engineering to as much as 25 per cent for Middle Eastern and African Studies, although some caution is necessary where numbers in any particular subject area are likely to be small.

Even Medicine and Dentistry – which had the highest starting salaries in 2007 – experienced  reductions of 15 per cent and 9 per cent respectively.

Just as important for graduates as the starting salary is the graduate premium – the difference between starting salaries in graduate-type and other employment.

Building showed the greatest increase in the gap between graduates entering professional-type jobs and those in non-graduate employment. A Building graduate taking up a graduate-type job in 2007 would have had a £4,045 advantage over a fellow student entering non-graduate work, when adjusted for inflation. By 2012, the differential has increased to £7,174, a rise of 77 per cent.

The average for all subjects where there were sufficient numbers to be analysed remained level, showing a 0 per cent change from 2007-12. The differential, after adjustment for inflation, actually fell marginally from £6,732 to £6,717.

For the two subjects with the highest starting salaries – Materials Technology and Librarianship  and Information Management – the graduate premium widened by 67 per cent and 72 per cent respectively.

Some 25 other subjects showing an increase, including Classics  and Ancient History (42 per cent) and History (15 per cent).

With a few exceptions, however, other arts and humanities subjects fared relatively poorly, with the premium eroded in a large number of cases. Philosophy fell by 16 per cent and Law by 20 per cent, while English, French and Iberian languages all narrowed by 26 per cent.


The subjects showing the greatest positive increase in the differential between graduate and non-graduate starting salaries after adjustment for inflation from 2007-12 were:


Building (+ 77%)

Librarianship & Information Management (+ 72%)

Materials Technology (+ 67%)

Mechanical Engineering  (+ 45%)

Classics and Ancient History (+ 42%)


The subjects showing the greatest negative increase – where the gap widened
to the disadvantage of graduates – were:


Social Policy (-32%)

Civil Engineering (-30%)

French (-26%)

English (-26%)

Iberian Languages (-26%)