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Wage gaps between rich and poor graduates persist years after university  

Figures from the Department for Education show a clear earnings disparity between graduates who were once eligible for free school meals and those who weren't

Winchester, England - October 16, 2014: Mother and graduate daughter embrace and the University of Winchester graduation ceremony after attending the service.

Even though they attain the same degree, graduates born into more privileged backgrounds achieve greater financial success than their contemporaries from less well-off circumstances immediately after leaving university.

New figures on graduate earnings released by the government, while not only showing a widening wage gap between male and female students, show a disparity between graduates who were eligible for free school meals while in lower education and those who weren’t.

Pupils on free school meals throughout early education are likely to earn £3,000 less five years after graduating than those who didn’t receive themGraduate earnings are continuing to raise year on year but the gaps prevail and are expanding, the report shows. 

Gender wage gap

The wage gap between male and female graduates has been growing steadily over the past three years too, the figures suggest, with a £3,600 wage difference between them five years after graduating. But the gap between ethnic and social backgrounds is now being investigated. 

Students with A-level (or equivalent) results of three As or more are likely to earn £5,000 more a year after graduation that those who were graded B and Cs and £7,000 more than those with three Cor less.

Anna Vignoles, professor at the University of Cambridge said in a 2014 study that: “The raw differences are large: we find that, 3.5 years after leaving university, graduates who attended private schools earn 17 per cent more per year, on average, than those who attended state schools. 

Some of the ‘private school premium’ appears to arise from the fact that these students have higher achievement prior to entering university and are more likely to attend institutions and study subjects which elicit high wage returns.” 

The gaps do not end at class. The research shows that Pakistani graduates are also falling victim, earning £6,000 less annually than white graduates more than a decade after achieving their degree. In fact, black Caribbean and Bangladeshi graduates are all seen to earn less than that of white, Chinese and Indian origin. 

Image: iStock

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