Women with degrees ‘could earn extra £1m’ despite higher fees

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RISING tuition fees, which have put a high price on degrees and led to a seven per cent drop in female university applications, could be denying women in Leeds potential earnings of up to £1m during their lifetime.

A new survey by investment specialist Skandia has found that the average graduate earns £1.61m over a 45-year working career, compared with £1.02m for an 18-year-old entering the workforce and £784,000 for someone starting work aged 16.

Graham Bentley, head of investment strategy at Skandia, said: “We know from this latest research and studies we’ve done earlier in the year that the cost of a degree is far outweighed by the returns made in terms of salary over a lifetime.

“Women who have been to university are likely to earn about £1m more over their working lifetime than someone who leaves school at 16, and a third more than someone who goes into the workplace with A levels alone.

“Obviously not everyone is able to go to university but for those who have the academic ability to do so it’s essential they understand the lifetime benefits, both in terms of financial reward and peace of mind, and they aren’t put off applying because of fees.”

Total applications to study at the University of Leeds in 2012 fell by 5.8 per cent compared with the previous year, from 52,447 to 49,396. Nationally, applications from women fell by 7.1 per cent.

Graduate job expert Charlie Ryan, founder of consultancy firm The Recruitment Queen, said that while Leeds women were weighing up whether university was right for them, having a degree could still make the difference in a successful job application.

“The reason companies in Leeds go for a graduate is that they are that little bit more mature, and their interpersonal skills are more developed,” said Charlie, who works with schools and universities across Yorkshire to help prepare young people for job-hunting.

“There’s no doubt it is more difficult for someone without a degree, because the screening process means they won’t have the chance to speak directly to the company without that degree on paper.”