The Universities Where Students Earn £40K After Graduating | TOTUM
Ben Hayward April 5th

With tuition fee increases, the ever rising cost of living, university staff strikes and the prospect of recession looming over the UK, young people would be forgiven for wondering if university is really worth it in the long run.  

However, a new study has shown that a university degree can still open doors into a well paid graduate job (check out the highest paying graduate schemes in the UK here) if you study at the right place. 

According to recent figures, graduates from a select group of British universities now earn around £40,000 or more on average in the first five years after finishing their studies. 

According to analysis by job site Adzuna, while the average salary for jobs requiring a degree is now £26,944 - as opposed to £21,494 for those without one - the degree mark you come out with can also affect your salary. 


Jobs requiring a first-class degree had advertised salaries of £30,420 on average while graduates with a 2:2 could expect to earn £28,391 a year, the study found.

Adzuna also looked at the career development of graduates from different universities and what they could expect to be earning five years into their careers based on current market conditions, revealing a handful of institutions from which you could expect your salary to top £40,000.

As you probably guessed, the list is dominated by the ‘big names’ you’d expect. 

Oxford and Cambridge ranked second and fifth respectively, with graduates making up to £49,086 a year. However, they were both beaten by specialist business school Bayes, part of the City University of London, where graduates earn more than £51,000.

Warwick Business School was next on the list (£47,446), with Imperial College (£46,305), and University College London (£40,852) completing the top six. 


However, it also emerged that the advertised salaries for most graduate jobs had actually dropped compared to last year.

Cambridge graduates' expected pay had seen a reduction of £1,510 since 2022, from £44,190, while graduates from Edinburgh, Manchester and Cranfield universities are now also facing lower pay compared to last year. 

By contrast, the average pay for Oxford alumni five years after graduation has risen by £1,468.

Andrew Hunter, of Adzuna, said the figures showed the value of a university education was ‘being eroded by inflation’.

He added: “Compared to a year ago, high inflation is driving up the cost of living and eating into many workers’ take-home pay, and the graduate ‘bonus’ hasn’t kept pace.”

The average university degree now leaves graduates with £45,000 in debt, which begins to be paid off only once their salary exceeds £27,295.

Adzuna’s figures show that of the 125 universities included in the study, roughly half would lead graduates to salaries exceeding £30,000, 18 would lead to salaries below the repayment threshold within five years, while just 19 were found to lead to salaries above £35,000. 

However, a degree from one of Britain’s top universities is still one of the best ways of landing a better-paid job.

Speaking to The Telegraph, James Hutt, who studied natural sciences at Cambridge, said that by studying at a prestigious university, students could increase their chances of being recruited into high-paying firms.


“It was almost the default option because there were so many banks, law firms and consultancies around [at careers day events on campus],” he said.

Mr Hutt, 29, said such events ‘weren’t going on at every uni’, adding that his first internship opportunity came from someone he met at an event for students in their first year.

He said: “Later in life when I was working at one of those firms it was clear they were only putting that effort into a few universities.”

If you're graduating soon , check out our guides on some options for when you finish university:

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