There are many aspects students research before choosing a degree course -location and costs often being the most important. However, recently coming at the top of the list for students is investigating how much they could earn after completing one course compared to another.
Research data from the Higher Education Statistics Agency shows that it is not only the course you do and the university in which you do it, it is a mixture of the two. The Agency has compiled an indication of the five highest earning potential courses and the lowest earning five.
Figures are based on responses from students who left university in 2010 and were asked about their employment six months after graduating, though some universities claimed they failed to provide an accurate picture since the number of respondents was too small.
The top five:
1) Studying Maths at Oxford could earn you £42,589 a year
2) Studying Engineering at Bournemouth could earn you £38,095 a year
3) Studying Engineering at Robert Gordon could earn you £36,500 a year
4) Studying Economics at Cambridge could earn you £36,277 a year
5) Studying Nursing at Derby could earn you £34,111 a year.
The bottom five:
1) Studying Media Studies at Northumbria could earn you £11,789 a year
2) Studying Education Studies at Bangor could earn you £11,938 a year
3) Studying Performing Arts at West of Scotland could earn you £12,144 a year
4) Studying Performing Arts at Manchester Metropolitan could earn you £12,500 a year
5) Studying Sociology at Ulster could earn you £12,537
Of course, there are a few issues with this information: asking graduates about their employment 6 months after graduating during a recession skews the data, thus figures for the same courses at the same places may improve as the economy improves, although they could get worse due to course content and bad reputation.
David Willetts, the Universities Minister says: “Prospective students are entitled to know this kind of information… If a course is doing badly, they may well ask themselves if it is providing value for money.”
As tuition fees soar and living costs for young people rise further this is an important point. Students do need to consider the value for money of a degree course. With discrepancies of £30,800 between the highest earning graduates and lowest earning it seems like this could prove an important piece of research for prospective students.