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Jobs & Careers

Best universities for graduate salaries revealed (Oxbridge isn’t top)

Find out if your university has made the top 10 in the UK according to graduate salary!

university with best graduate salary

When choosing which university to go to, one of the most important considerations is often how much you can earn afterwards.

Sometimes people prefer to focus on the course offerings, the location, the universities facilities, or the prestige of the institution.

However, the common theme for every university student is that, eventually, you will have to start thinking about what you will do afterwards, and that involves thinking about money.

Employability, careers services, and how likely you are to land a great job are therefore often high up on the list of priorities for many prospective students.

To help students decide which university will give them the professional boost they're after, The Student Room has ranked universities based on graduate salaries, and we've got the top 10 for you!

The data used to compile this table was published in 2017. As graduate outcomes are unlikely to change that much that quickly, this table should act as a good guide!

Which university's graduates earn the most?

Average salary rankUniversityAverage median salaryCUG rank
The Open University £26,373N/A
City, University of London £24,45357
London School of Economics £23,8184
Queen Mary University £23,64441
University of Bath £23,3999
Brunel University London £23,24669
Loughborough University £22,9428
University of Surrey £22,82623
University of Cambridge £22,6061
University of Southampton £22,00820

The Student Room used the average course salary data published by HESA to calculate an average median salary for each UK university that succeeded in publishing more than 90% of its course salaries to the agency.

The Open University has beaten many celebrated universities to bag first place on this particular graduate salary list.

In fact, the whole list is significantly different to The Complete University Guide (CUG) university rankings, with only three institutions making it into both lists: the London School of Economics, Loughborough University and the University of Cambridge.

Notably, the likes of the University of OxfordImperial College London and Durham University fail to make the top 10 for graduate salaries completely.

The Open University’s success is perhaps unsurprising when you consider that most of its courses can be taken part-time or via distance learning.

A huge 76% of OU students choose to work alongside their degrees, some of them doing full-time jobs, which almost certainly contributes to the uni having the highest median graduate salary.

Why do some graduates earn more than others?

why some graduates earn more

Another interesting feature of the results is geography. This league table consists mainly of universities in the south of England, which is likely to be because there are more jobs with higher salaries in London and the surrounding areas.

All but one of the top 10 institutions are broadly located in the south, with Loughborough (East Midlands) the only exception. There are no universities from Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland in this list.

Despite this, there are still loads of graduate jobs for you to apply to with locations in every corner of the UK. Don’t let the rankings put you off!

You should also remember that these numbers don't tell the full story, and many graduates will earn more or less than the figures above.

What's more, these are only the salaries that students are earning six months after graduation. Often they will increase in the following years as graduates get promoted, finish training, and have more of an idea of what they want to do.

How to choose the right university for you

how to choose a university

Choosing where to go to university can feel stressful, and sometimes it’s difficult to know where to start.

The best way to begin is to write a list of what is important to you when it comes to university. Everyone has slightly different preferences.

Examples of factors include the overall university ranking, the ranking of your chosen course, the modules on offer, the facilities, the location, the surrounding area, the societies, and even the price. Employment prospects are, of course, a consideration too.

If you can get to a university open day, they are the best way to gauge whether or not you should apply to that university. Sometimes places seem good on paper, but look and feel totally different once you're there!

Then when graduation is looming, you have another choice to make: what to do next?

Graduate salaries will often come into the mix, but it definitely isn’t the only factor you should consider when thinking about your career after university.

Consider what you want to do on a day-to-day basis, what you enjoy, where your skills lie, and what your values are. Are factors like employee benefits and location important to you?

This guide to graduate schemes might help you make a start, but remember that there are also many alternatives to graduate schemes.

You might even choose to see the world after finishing university, but don't feel as though you're harming your career prospects – travelling can get you a job too!

Head over to our Jobs and Careers section for all our advice on... well, jobs and careers!


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