UK research | First-generation graduates have higher starting salaries - are they more motivated to succeed?

First-generation graduates have higher starting salaries - are they more motivated to succeed?

First-generation university graduates have higher starting salaries than graduates who have a family history of going into higher education, according to new research from Universities UK (UUK).

The two surveys, which had over 3500 respondents of graduates and business leaders, attempted to quantify the value of attending university.

Graduates who were the first in their families to attend university earn an average salary of £30,111, whereas graduates whose family members attended university had an average starting salary of £27, 754, almost £3000 less.

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60% of those respondents who are business leaders, and were the first university graduates in their family, said this experience helped them go into senior positions faster and 51% said it allowed them to fast track their career.

Out of the first-gen respondents, 78% of graduates and 71% of business leaders said they felt going to university opened doors for them.

Plenty of studies support the notion that people that go into higher education typically come from middle-class and more financially stable backgrounds. Therefore, students who are the first to go to university in their family are more likely to be from lower-class backgrounds.

This potentially explains the reason for first-gen grads doing so well, feeling motivated to succeed as they won’t necessarily have the same financial support to fall back on if needed.

Nearly all respondents (97%) said university graduates reach managerial positions faster as a direct result of going to university, and 85% would expect to see graduates earn more than non-graduates after three years.

This survey comes amid a growing trend of young people deciding not to go to university. Another survey, from the Prince's Trust, found that a third of young people think university is a “waste of time” and too expensive.

In the world today, a myriad of alternative jobs that don’t require a university degree exist. Social media influencers and side hustle-turned full-time businesses are populating the lives of young people, pushing them further away from conventional routes to employment.

From an economic perspective, for many young people, having gone through a pandemic and two economic crises, the prospect of going to university and having debt before starting work, isn’t a tempting decision.

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