Education news

These universities set you up for the highest-earning career

Research from Ezra, the leading provider of digital coaching, reveals which UK universities produce the best-paid graduates and how their earnings compare to the average salary within each university’s town or city location.

Following another bumper A-level results day for students throughout the UK, the attention of many school leavers will now be turning to university and higher education with many people having to make tough choices about which university to attend. 

There are a myriad of factors to consider when making a final university decision, but one that often gets overlooked is future earning potential. Different universities have different success rates when it comes to graduate earnings, and Ezra’s research highlights exactly where to go if high earnings are a priority moving forward. 

The average UK graduate salary within five years of leaving university is £24,000. To earn more than this, students are going to have to gain entry to some of the most highly-regarded universities in the country, if not the world. 

The University of Oxford produces the highest average graduate salary at £34,802, 45% above the national average, followed very closely, as always, by the University of Cambridge where the average graduate salary is £34,720, 44.7% above the UK average.

University College London boasts an average graduate salary 36.5% higher than the UK average while King’s College London graduates earn 32.9% above average within five years of graduating. The University of Edinburgh rounds off the top five with an average graduate salary of £31,170, 29.9% above the national average.


While universities can help graduates achieve graduate salaries well above the overall UK average, how do they compare with the average salary in their respective cities or towns?

Ezra’s research reveals that only a handful of higher education institutes produce graduates who quickly earn more than the local average earnings of their respective towns or cities. 

At the very top of the list is the University of Nottingham where the average graduate salary within five years of leaving is £29,906. This is more than 20% above Nottingham’s average salary which currently stands at £24,850.


The University of Manchester is second on the list with an average graduate salary of £29,974. This is 11.5% more than the city’s average salary which currently stands at £26,892.

The University of Oxford ranks third with an average graduate salary 11.4% above the local average, followed by Durham University (7.5%), Warwick University (6.9%), the University of Southampton (2.7%), the University of Birmingham (2.1%), and the University of Bath (0.9%). 

These eight universities are the only ones in the UK where recent graduates earn more than the average local salary. Graduates from all of the other universities in the list, including King’s College, Oxford-Brookes, Cambridge, Edinburgh, and Brunel, cannot expect to earn more than the local average for the first five years of their post-university careers. 

Founder of Ezra, Nick Goldberg, commented: 

“No one is doubting the value of a university education, nor the university experience as a whole, but when it comes to earning potential, there is no true correlation between the two. Yes, a degree gives you great standing and opens a lot of doors early on in your career, but if it’s money you’re after, you’re still going to have to wait a fair few years to start earning serious amounts. 

“But you don’t have to attend university to aspire for a career of high earnings. Entering the world of work early and gaining valuable hands-on, real-world experience for three years can put you in just as strong of a position as a three-year degree can. 

“Whatever way you choose to go, if you want to earn good money along the way, it’s all about making the right career decisions at the right time. Chasing your first big pay offer isn’t always the best way of sustaining that high pay, for example. Good careers coaching can equip you with the knowledge and confidence to make the best decisions as and when they present themselves, thus helping you work your way to a high-paid position you enjoy and thrive in.”