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State-educated graduates face 'disadvantage' in pay progression - study

Published 06/08/2015

Six months after graduation, those who attended private school were earning about £1,300 more a year than those who went to state school, according to the study
Six months after graduation, those who attended private school were earning about £1,300 more a year than those who went to state school, according to the study

Privately educated graduates working in top jobs get bigger pay rises, leaving them earning thousands of pounds more than those who went to state school, a new study shows.

Three-and-a-half years after leaving university, those who went to a fee-paying school take home almost £4,500 more, according to a research brief published by the Sutton Trust and upReach.

Trust chairman Sir Peter Lampl said the findings show that graduates from less privileged backgrounds face a disadvantage when it comes to pay increases.

The brief, based on research by the National Institute for Economic and Social Research, says that six months after graduation, those working in a high-status job who attended private school were earning £24,066 a year on average, while those who were state educated were taking home £22,735 - a difference of around £1,300.

After around three years in the workplace, the gap widens, with former private school students earning around 14% more - £36,036 on average, compared to £31,586 for someone who went to state school, a gap of £4,450.

The study suggests that half of the earnings difference is down to factors such as a graduate's prior achievement and the type of university they attended.

But it adds that there are other issues to take into account, suggesting: "A plausible explanation is that non-academic skills such as articulacy or assertiveness could play an important role in accessing high-status jobs and career progression once in employment."

Previous research published by the trust and upReach, an organisation supporting less privileged students to secure top jobs, concluded that those from more disadvantaged backgrounds are less likely to enter elite professions such as law or finance.

Sir Peter said: "We know that graduates from less privileged backgrounds are under-represented in the top professions but today's research shows that they face disadvantage when it comes to pay progression too.

"This new research shows us how vital it is that firms do more to improve social mobility through their recruitment practices. Enabling greater access to a wider pool of diverse talent will deliver real benefits for employers and employees alike."

A DfE spokeswoman said: "We are determined to deliver educational excellence everywhere and ensure every child, regardless of background, reaches their potential.

"That is why we are raising standards with a rigorous new curriculum, world class exams and a new accountability system that recognises the schools that equip every child with the skills and knowledge they need to succeed.

"At the same time our academies programme is transforming the lives of millions of pupils across the country and thanks to these reforms, one million more children are now being taught in good or outstanding schools than in 2010."

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