Graduates that receive a 2.2 in their undergraduate degree risk losing out on future earnings compared to higher achieving students, reveals fresh research published today.
The penalty for getting a lower second degree classification as opposed to a 2.1 is seven per cent lower earnings for women, according to the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS).
Men lose out on 11 per cent of higher earnings if they receive a 2.2.
A 2.1 boosts men and women’s earnings seven per cent and four per cent respectively.
The research illustrates that securing a top job is largely driven by what subject people study and how selective their university is.
“For men and women studying law or economics, getting a 2.2 rather than a 2.1 is associated with more than 15 per cent lower earnings, whereas there is no significant difference for those studying education or English,” the IFS said.
Going to a more selective university and achieving a 2.1 tends to boost future earnings.
Both men and women who obtain a 2.2 from the likes of the University of Oxford, Cambridge University and the London School of Economics earn 20 per cent less on average at age 30 than those who achieve a 2.1, the IFS said.
However, women and men that graduate from less selective universities lose out on six per cent and eight per cent of earnings respectively if they receive a lower second class degree.
The IFS’ research examined administrative statistics from the government’s longitudinal education outcomes data set.
It was commissioned by the Department for Education.
Poor attendance rates at top universities among less well off households is a key driver of sustaining economic inequality.
“Going to a more selective university is good for future earnings, and the fact that few students from disadvantaged backgrounds attend the most selective universities is a barrier to social mobility,” Ben Waltmann, senior research economist at IFS and a co-author of the report, said.
“But that being said, many graduates who get a 2.2 from a highly selective university might have got a higher-paying job had they attended a slightly less selective university and got a 2.1,” he added.