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UK millionaires: Where they went to uni and what they studied

We're sure you're always hearing stories of uni dropouts becoming millionaires around the world. But what about homegrown UK graduates?

UK Millionaire Graduates

Dreaming of making your millions, but just in the process of working out how to get there? Some pray for lottery jackpots, some follow every ‘get rich quick’ scheme that comes to town, but if this list is anything to go by - many more go to university first!

We've written a step-by-step guide on how to go from student to millionaire (easy enough, right?), and as a bit of motivation, here are nine uni graduates who went on to earn the big bucks.

These are some of the UK’s finest university-educated millionaires - plus full deets on what they studied, where they graduated from and how university helped them get where they are today.

You're much better off working for your millions – a lottery win is seriously unlikely!

The UK's millionaire graduates

  1. Rowan Atkinson

    Rowan Atkinson DegreeThe ‘Johnny English’ star is now worth a whopping £60 million. Before he found fame as an actor, comedian and screenwriter, Rowan Atkinson had 'bean' a student of electrical engineering.

    He completed his undergraduate degree at Newcastle University before going on to study a master’s degree in the subject at the University of Oxford.

    It was during his time at university that he met fellow-screenwriter Richard Curtis and came up with the idea behind Blackadder and later, our favourite Mr Bean.

    Whilst studying at Oxford, Atkinson wrote and performed several sketches amongst student communities. His university life provided him with the experience, confidence and connections to get where he is today.

  2. Christopher Nolan

    Christopher Nolan DegreeAward-winning director of ‘Inception’, ‘The Prestige’ and the latest Batman trilogy, Christopher Nolan has come a long way since his uni days.

    He is now worth a cool £60 million, despite only leaving University College London (UCL) 20 years ago. Nolan is also the youngest director to have been honoured with a hand- and footprint ceremony at the world-famous TCL Chinese Theatre in Los Angeles.

    Although he read English Literature, Nolan admired UCL for its outstanding film-making facilities. He quickly rose to President of the university’s Film Society and created several films alongside his studies. Both his degree and his extra-curricular activities at UCL supported Nolan’s interests, allowing him to find his true calling.

  3. J K Rowling

    J K Rowling DegreeEveryone knows J K Rowling as the author of the best-selling Harry Potter series, but not many people realise that, before she became one of the world's best-paid fiction writers, she read French and Classics at the University of Exeter.

    The influence of her Classics degree is clear in Harry Potter - spells are based on Latin wordplay, and many ideas in the books are derived from Greek mythology.

    She's now the highest self-made woman on the UK rich list!

  4. Sacha Baron Cohen

    Sacha DegreeVeeeerrry nice... From Ali G to Les Miserable, Sacha Baron Cohen is a truly versatile actor and comedian. In 1990, he matriculated at the University of Cambridge, just as fellow British millionaires, Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie, had done before him.

    Baron Cohen chose Cambridge for its prestigious reputation and prolific acting opportunities. Whilst reading history, he regularly participated in their Amateur Dramatic Club, performing roles in plays such as Fiddler on the Roof and Cyrano de Bergerac.

    Now worth nearly £70 million, despite one of his Cambridge tutors remembering him as "quiet, friendly and studious, but not exceptional". There's hope for us all yet!

  5. Sir Terry Leahy

    Terry Leahy DegreeThe University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology (UMIST) is responsible for shaping this former Tesco Chief Executive.

    A BSc in Management Sciences provided Leahy with the skills needed to expand the successful supermarket chain.

    Leahy even invented the well-known loyalty card scheme 'Tesco Clubcard’ in 1995 – which has since inspired many other supermarkets to follow suit.

  6. Chris Tarrant

    Chris Tarrant DegreeChris Tarrant is known for asking the question ‘who wants to be a millionaire?’ but when he first entered the hallowed halls of the University of Birmingham, he could only dream of actually becoming one himself.

    Tarrant read English at Birmingham, after declining an Oxford scholarship (some sources claim a boxing scholarship, but don't quote us on that!).

    After a short stint as an English teacher, Tarrant decided to use his acquired skills towards becoming a successful television personality.

    The University of Birmingham boasts the highest proportion of self-made UK millionaires; an astounding 84% of their rich graduates became wealthy on their own.

  7. David Gill

    David Gill DegreeDavid Gill was the Manchester United Football Club’s Chief Executive and a Vice Chairman of The Football Association (back when they were still good), but he started his journey at the Birmingham Business School.

    At Man United he was among the highest-paid directors, with a staggering £2 million salary. With a clear head for business and a pragmatic degree under his belt, there was no stopping him.

  8. E L James

    eljamesLove them or loathe them, we've all heard of the Fifty Shade of Grey books by now. What you might not know is that the woman behind the books is now thought to be worth more than £20 million.

    The University of Kent graduate read history before launching herself into the world of erotic fiction in 2009. The essay-based subject was clearly a blessing as James didn't even start out with a book deal, making use of self publishing sites online until she was spotted by a big-name publisher.

  9. Sir Chris Hoy

    chrishoyChances are you probably watched Sir Chris Hoy cycling to victory in the London 2012 Olympics. Olympic medals aside, the University of Edinburgh graduate is doing pretty well for himself - he's estimated to be worth around £52 million.

    Perhaps unsurprisingly, he graduated with a degree in applied sports science, but also spent a great deal of time training with Edinburgh City Racing Club. Figures really.

Get your name on that list!

bathrichThese are just a few of the most notable university-educated UK millionaires, but there are too many examples of brilliant Brits to mention. And there’s always room for more!

Maybe your name will be on the list in a few years time?

Get a head start by gunning for a top class degree and (like these guys did) getting involved in some extracurricular activities while you're at uni.

Any inspirational UK millionaires you reckon have earned their space on this list? Let us know in the comments below - we might even add 'em.

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