Fees and outcomes
Should we apply the Uber model to universities? Currently, universities have a one-fee-fits-all-approach: tuition fees are the same for all universities and their various courses in the UK, regardless of the quality of teaching, the class size, the location or, most importantly, the financial outcomes for graduates. For example, graduates of the Mercedes type universities are faster out of the gate both jobwise and money wise. In fact, adjusted for degree type, top university (Oxbridge) graduates have (1) higher starting salaries (an average of £7,000 more than those of all other universities) and (2) have a 74% change of being in professional employment 6 months after graduation versus only 55% of graduates from all other universities.
Financial outcomes; why they matter when selecting universities & courses
Now that you have rounded up some impressive GCSE results and have started to explore universities, should you indeed think about the monetary value of a degree as well as at which institution you will take this degree? Degrees in Humanities (according to the Sutton Trust) unsurprisingly pay much less than top earning degrees in topics such as medicine, engineering, computer science and economics, but a classics degree from Oxford might still land you a similar salary to that of a chemistry graduate from any other university.
If you are lucky enough to be educated privately so far, you and your parents may consider the absolute level of the university fees less important than what you want to study and where. But even if the monetary investment in your degree is not a real issue, the value of the ‘yield’ (future earnings potential) on this investment must be taken into consideration. An extensive report by the Sutton Trust concluded that: “for students, both the subject they study and the university they attend matter for their career outcomes. Graduates from more selective universities, and from courses like medicine, engineering, economics, and computer science, earn more on average, and are more likely to go on to a professional job, than are those graduating from less selective universities, or from courses in the arts, humanities, or social sciences. This is true even after taking into account a students’ pre-university achievements and social background.”
So, if you are in the process of pre-selecting universities and possible courses, think long and hard about it. University is fun, and meant to be, but ultimately it is to prepare you for you adult working life, which ideally starts with a bang.