Students who graduate from university with a first class degree earn £7,900 more per year than those with a lower second class within five years of completing the course.
According to a report by the think tank Institute for Fiscal Studies, commissioned by the Department of Education, graduating with a first class degree makes a big difference in earning potential in the early years of a career.
Those who graduated 2-2 in 2013 earned £3,800 less than those who graduated 2-1, according to the report.
The difference in earnings between a higher and lower second-class degree is much larger than the difference between a first and a 2:1 degree across all degrees, said Jack Britton of the IFS and author of the report.
“In fact, for many subjects, the difference between a first and a 2:1 is irrelevant to merit. However, for others such as economics, law, economics, computer science and pharmacology, it is significant,” he said.
Earning a lower second-class degree instead of an upper second-class degree costs graduates 15 percent of their future earnings for those studying law or economics. However, there is no significant difference for those studying Education or English, which tend to result in lower-paying jobs.
Grades can have a greater impact on future earnings than university excellence. Anyone who gets a 2-2 at a highly selective university like Oxford, Cambridge, or the London School of Economics could have landed a better-paying job by going to a slightly less prestigious university and securing a 2-1.
However, there is a 20 percent wage penalty until age 30 for men and women who graduate 2-2 from the most selective schools.
Final grades also have less of an impact on women’s pay. Men in their 20s who achieve initial success typically earn 7 percent more than if they had achieved 2:1, but women only earn 4 percent more.
The payout for better grades drops to near zero for women at the top universities, while male graduates with a first-class degree earn 14 percent more than those with a higher second.
https://www.telegraph.co.uk/money/consumer-affairs/getting-first-university-earns-nearly-8000-year-22/ Getting a first at university is worth it – but not if you study English