Gaining a degree require years of hard work and thousands of pounds in university tuition fees, but are graduates getting a good deal once they enter the job market?
We have analysed all of the public information available to find out what the average graduate salary is in the UK in 2022, along with additional information on which subjects or universities are most lucrative, and which regions graduates can earn the biggest starting salaries.
Key graduate salary statistics 2022
- The average graduate salary in the UK in 2022 is £24,291.
- Medicine & dentistry degrees offer the highest average starting salaries at £35,000.
- London graduates earn the most across all UK regions with an average salary of £28,634, whilst grads in Wales earn the least at £22,420.
- Rothschilds offers the highest paid graduate scheme with a £65,000 starting salary.
- Male graduates earn an average of 6% more than their female counterparts.
- Graduates earn an average of £7,000 per year than non-graduates
- The total outstanding amount of student debt in the UK surpassed £177 billion in 2021.
Average graduate salary UK 2022
The average starting salary for a graduate in the UK for 2022 is £24,291 – this is a 5% decrease from 2021 (£25,466).
Graduate salaries per subject
The subject studied at university is an important factor in the starting salary achievable by a graduate.
Below are the average starting salaries for graduates in each subject area, which is further divided into high-skill, medium-skill, and low-skill. These skill levels are defined by HESA and relate to the technical ability involved in the role. For example, in education a low skilled role could be a teaching assistant and a high skilled role could be a head teacher.
|Subject area of degree||High skilled||Medium skilled||Low skilled|
|Medicine & dentistry||£35,000||£18,500||N/A|
|Subjects allied to medicine||£25,000||£19,000||£18,000|
|Agriculture & related subjects||£23,500||£18,500||£19,000|
|Engineering & technology||£28,000||£22,000||£18,000|
|Architecture, building & planning||£24,000||£20,000||£18,000|
|Business & administrative studies||£25,000||£20,500||£18,000|
|Mass communications & documentation||£21,000||£19,500||£17,000|
|Historical & philosophical studies||£24,500||£19,000||£18,000|
|Creative arts & design||£21,000||£18,000||£16,000|
Average graduate salary per region
The table below shows the average starting graduate salary for every region in the UK. Note that the region indicates where the location where the graduate has gained employment as opposed to the location of the university they studied at.
|East of England||£25,107.00|
|Yorkshire and The Humber||£23,170.00|
London tops the starting salary list for graduates with an average starting salary of £28K, whilst Wales offers the least at £22K. However, cost of living differences across region may decrease the purchasing power of some of the higher salaries here.
“The average salary being advertised online is £5,002 greater than the average salary actually being achieved by graduates.”
Average graduate salary advertised
According to Glassdoor, the average graduate role in the UK is offering a salary of £29,293 – this is £5,002 more than the average graduate salary being achieved.
This could mean that advertised salaries are being inflated, or that in some cases “graduate roles” may also require candidates to have work experience in the job description, which employers are prepared to pay more for. Either way, entry-level graduates jobs are paying less in reality, than what is being advertised online
Best paying universities
The university which a student attends can have a huge impact on the starting salary they are able to achieve. This is likely due to a number of factors including the subjects available at each university, the standard of teaching and the reputation a university has amongst employers.
This table shows the top ten universities in the UK with the percentage of graduates who achieved a starting salary of £51,000 or higher.
|University||% of graduates receiving salary of £51,000+|
|University College of Estate Management||29%|
|London School of Economics and Political Science||12%|
|Imperial College of Science, Technology, and Medicine||8%|
|The Open University||8%|
|The University of Cambridge||7%|
|The University of Oxford||6%|
|The University of Warwick||5%|
University College of Estate Management is specialist remote learning institute offering courses in real estate exclusively, which could account for its position in this table. London School of Economics and the remaining universities on the list offer a broader range of course subjects.
Highest paying graduate schemes
The highest paying graduate schemes in the UK sit within finance and banking, and pay more than double the average starting salary for grads.
Below are the top 10 highest paying graduate schemes currently available in the UK.
- Rothschilds – Private Finance – £65,000
- JP. Morgan – Investment Banking – £58,000
- Goldman Sachs – Investment Banking – £52,000
- The Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) – Investment Banking – £54,000
- Barclays Capital – Investment Banking – £50,000
- White and Chase – Legal Services – £50,000
- British Petroleum (BP) – Oil and Gas – £49,000
- Baker McKenzie – Legal Services – £48,000
- The Phoenix Partnership (TPP) – Software – £45,000
- Aldi – Retail – £44,000
Highest paying public sector graduate schemes
Careers in the public sector are considered to be safe and secure with many of them offering good financial rewards and job stability over the long term.
These are the 8 highest paying graduate schemes in the public sector.
- MI5 – Technology graduate development programme – £34,366.00
- Intellectual Property Office – Telecoms – £33,101.00
- HM Revenue & Customs – Tax Professional Programme – £30,880.00
- National Audit Office – £29,978.00
- NHS – Health Policy Fast Track Scheme – £28,966.00
- Civil service – Fast stream – £28,000.00
- Government Legal Profession – £28,000.00
- The Forestry Commission – £25,594.00
Graduate gender pay gap
Male graduates who obtained first-class degree qualifications and entered full time jobs in the UK in 2019 were paid an average of £26,000 compared to women who were paid £24,500 – a 6% difference.
On average, male graduates at the age of 25 earn 5% more than the average female graduate. By age 30, the gender pay gap in annual earnings stands at 25%.
The graph below from StandOut CV shows the portion of graduates and their earnings for men and women.
A key takeaway from this graph is that the gender pay increase with higher paid roles, to the point where at the top end of the scale, only 3% of female graduates earn over £51,000 compared to 7% of men.
Graduates becoming CEOs
Chief executive officer (CEO) is the top job available in large organisations and consistently ranks amongst the highest paying jobs in the UK with an average salary of £81,102 and many CEOs earning well in excess of this figure.
Recruitment firm Forward Role analysed over 260,000 LinkedIn profiles to discover which universities and degrees were propelling the most graduates to this sought-after position.
The top 20 universities producing the most CEOs
|University Name||Number of graduates who are now CEOs|
|University of Cambridge||7,309|
|University of Oxford||7,033|
|The University of Manchester||7,011|
|University of Leeds||5,188|
|University of Birmingham||4,490|
|The University of Nottingham||3,833|
|University of Bristol||3,815|
|Manchester Metropolitan University||3,801|
|London Business School||3,791|
Which degrees produce the most CEOs?
|Degree||Number of graduates who are now CEOs|
|Business Administration and Management, General||22,215|
|Political Science and Government||1,234|
|Design and Visual Communications, General||789|
Graduates VS Non graduates
Data from the Department of education shows median salary for graduates over their entire working career is £34,000 – whereas the median lifetime salary for a non-graduate is £25,000. This means that graduates earn an average of £7,000 per year more than their non-graduate counterparts and this results in a lifetime earnings gap of £321,000.
The cost of university
Whilst a degree is likely to land you a higher paid job, the cost of gaining one is becoming increasingly expensive in the UK.
Tuition fees are the biggest cost a student will have to bear (in addition to living costs) which pay for the key elements of course delivery such as lectures, campus facilities and student support services.
Tuition fees across the UK are as follows and will vary depending on where the student’s home region is:
- England: up to £9,250 per year
- Scotland: Up to £9,250 per year
- Northern Ireland: up to £9,250 per year
- Wales: Up to £9,000 per year
Most students take out Student Loans to finance their studies which were introduced by the government to make gaining a degree more accessible.
Here are the important numbers around student debt in the UK.
Average student loan debt UK
The average outstanding amount of student loan in the UK, split into regions is shown below:
- England: £45,060
- Wales: £27,600
- Northern Ireland: £24,720
- Scotland: £15,170
When student loans have to be paid
Student loans do not have to be paid back until the graduate is earning over a threshold set by the government.
Below are the repayment thresholds for each UK region.
|Region||Annual earnings||Monthly earnings|
Student debt repayment time
In the UK it takes an average of 29 years and 4 months for graduates to pay off their student loans.
According to the UK Government, it is expected that just 25% of undergraduates will repay their full student loan.
Outstanding student debt UK
According to data released by the Student Loans Company, the total outstanding amount of student debt in the UK surpassed £177 billion in 2021. By 2050 they expect the figure to reach £560 billion.
|Northern Ireland||£4.1 billion|
Student cost of living
In the pursuit of gaining a lucrative degree, students will often live away from home for the first time and encounter numerous living costs from rent and utility bills, to takeaway food and nights out socialising.
The average university student shells out £810 per month according to a leading student website’s survey.
In addition to the above, NatWest’s Student living index unveiled the following facts:
- 54% of students rely on their student loan to pay their rent and 37% rely on parents or family, whilst only 13% use their own income.
- Average student monthly rents across the UK have increased by 18.5% since 2020
- 27% of UK students have found themselves running out of money by end of the semester
Most expensive Uni towns
Whilst the average student rent across the UK sits at £421 per month, some towns and cities can cost a lot more.
These are the top 5 most expensive town/cities for student accommodation in the UK.
|Town/city||Average monthly rent|
Cheapest Uni towns
At the other end of the spectrum, these are the university towns with the 5 lowest student rents.
|Town/city||Average monthly rent|
HESA | Graduate outcome report – https://www.hesa.ac.uk/data-and-analysis/graduates
Target Jobs | BestPublic sector schemes – https://targetjobs.co.uk/careers-advice/public-services-and-administration/what-starting-salary-should-graduate
Glassdoor | Average graduate job salary UK – https://www.glassdoor.co.uk/Salaries/graduate-salary-SRCH_KO0,8.htm
UCAS | Tuition fees – https://www.ucas.com/finance/undergraduate-tuition-fees-and-student-loans
Glide – Highest paid graduate schemes UK – https://glide.co.uk/guides/highest-paid-graduate-schemes/
Forward role | Graduate CEO study – https://www.forwardrole.com/blog/2019/10/which-universities-produce-most-ceos
Natwest | Student living index – https://www.natwest.com/life-moments/students-and-graduates/student-living-index.html
Save the Student | National Student Money Survey – https://www.savethestudent.org/money/student-budgeting/what-do-students-spend-their-money-on.html
HEFCE | Nature and extent of undergraduates’ work experience – https://dera.ioe.ac.uk/5159/1/rd19_02.pdf
IFS | Gender differences in subject choice lead to gender pay gap immediately after graduation – https://ifs.org.uk/publications/15657#:~:text=At%20age%2025%2C%20the%20average,annual%20earnings%20stands%20at%2025%25
UK Gov | Average Loan Balance on entry into repayment – https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/992172/Average_loan_balance_on_entry_into_repayment.pdf
Cosmopolitan | It takes a depressingly long time to pay off your student loan – https://www.cosmopolitan.com/uk/worklife/campus/a12443209/how-long-uni-students-pay-student-loans/
UK Parliament | House of Commons Library: Student loan statistics https://commonslibrary.parliament.uk/research-briefings/sn01079/
Statista | Outstanding debt of student loans in the UK 2013-2021 – https://www.statista.com/statistics/376411/uk-outstanding-student-loan-debt/
StandOut CV | Graduate statistics – https://standout-cv.com/uk-graduate-statistics