The IFS have just released a new report looking at graduate earnings. The report is one of the first pieces of research that links data from HESA about subject and institution, to student loans and tax records from HMRC. The findings indicate that even when students attend the same university, do the same course and get the same classification, those with wealthy parents are still more likely to earn more. It also points to findings that men who go to the most prestigious universities are earning well above their female counter parts.
Clearly these findings are disappointing for many of us who work in HE and believe access to education can work as a great tool for social mobility. A recent article by Graeme Atherton, Director of the National Education Opportunities Network argues that the definition of social mobility needs to be meaningfully expanded to go beyond economic success and take into account measures of health, work-life balance and self-actualisation. Even though we would accept this, the IFS report is concerning as it points towards inequality between graduates, as pointed out by Jo Johnson (minister for universities) “this latest analysis reveals the worrying gaps that still exist in graduate outcomes”.
Although the report does not go into the reasons behind the differences, the BBC has suggested that wealthy students benefit from informal and formal networks that equip them with social capital and access to better jobs. Unfortunately these types of network cannot be replaced like for like but there are ways students can increase their own networks and it’s worth developing your own students interpersonal and networking skills:
Read the full IFS report here.