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The degrees where going to Oxbridge could double your salary

oxbridge salaries
oxbridge salaries

Going to Oxford or Cambridge University boosts your salary by more than £15,000 – and in three subjects graduates take home double what their peers make.

The “Oxbridge premium” is equal to a pay boost of £16,800 five years after graduating, according to Telegraph analysis of data from the Department for Education (DfE).

Across 18 subject areas offered by both institutions, the median wage of 2015 Oxbridge graduates in 2020 was £47,300, compared to £30,500 for graduates of the same courses at all other UK universities – a premium worth £16,800.

But the boost is far higher for three subjects: computing, law, and business and management.


Computing graduates typically command an annual salary of £37,500. For those who studied Computer Science at Oxford or Cambridge, however, this expectation can be raised to £85,000.

With just over 20 applicants per place in 2022 it is Oxford’s most oversubscribed course. It is also the highest-earning degree provided by any UK university, with Cambridge’s sister programme a close second.

The £85,000 earnings figure for their graduates is almost 2.3 times the nationwide average of £37,500.

Oxbridge graduates in law (£76,900 versus £31,200 at all other universities), and business and management (£65,500 versus £32,000) can also expect to make double those studying the same subject elsewhere.

Only in medicine and dentistry are their earnings actually below the national average – albeit by just £1,600.

A University of Oxford spokesman suggested this may be due to Medicine (BM BCh) being a six-year course at Oxbridge, rather than the five years, as is more common.

Rose Stephenson, of the Higher Education Policy Institute (Hepi), a think tank, said the results were “unsurprising” given the universities’ reputations.

She said: “The ‘Oxbridge Premium’ demonstrates the impact of selective recruitment, and the importance of widening participation to higher education, and in particular to highly selective universities.”

ONS data show the top 1pc of earners from independent schools earn £180,000 by the age of 30, while the top percentile from state schools – not in receipt of free school meals – took home £80,000 at the same age. For those who did get free school meals, this falls to £60,000.

Ms Stephenson said: “Both Oxford and Cambridge recruit a disproportionate number of students from independent schools and despite 23.8pc of all school pupils being in receipt of free school meals, just 7.6pc of Oxford’s and 9.5pc of Cambridge’s full-time undergraduate students were previously in receipt of free school meals.”

She added that it was also due to a host of factors, rather than a simple case of high-paying employers gravitating towards Oxbridge-embellished CVs.

The University of Oxford said: “Our own research shows that social background, as measured by admission flags, school type and ethnicity, is not associated with the chances of being unemployed or attaining positive graduate outcomes.”

Tom Allingham, of student finance platform Save the Student, said: “It doesn’t come as a great surprise that there might be a salary premium for Oxbridge graduates, but the potential extent of the discrepancy is eye-watering.

“Our latest survey found that 42pc of students aren’t confident of finding work after graduating, with the average expected starting salary standing at £23,333.

“But clearly opportunities vary depending on where a graduate studied, so I’d encourage employers to consider applicants from as wide a range of backgrounds as possible.”