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What's going on in Higher Education?

Newly released data for graduate earnings show significant gender pay gap

The Longitudinal Education Outcomes (LEO) data came out last week, measuring graduate earnings in the UK one, three, five and ten years after university. LEO brought together tax, benefits and student loans data to yield average wages by course, institution, and gender. These results can in no way be said to measure the ‘value added’ by a degree, since no controls were put in place. LEO data suggest that, somewhat dispiritingly, the strongest indicator that a graduate will become a high earner is ‘whether they came from an already wealthy background’.

Sector experts have not yet had time to fully digest the material, but the headline figures expose worrying disparities between the earning potential of men and women in all subjects except English Studies and Mass Communication and Documentation. Even in Nursing, the national cohort of which is 90% women, male graduates on average earn £2,000 more just one year after graduation, rising to £3,400 after two further years. These kinds of figures are compounded by race, since, according to this article, ‘female Pakistani graduates’ median graduate salary three years after graduation is an astonishing £6,500 less than the white males, compared to ‘only’ a £2,000 gap for white females’. In spite of all this, the overall graduate premium is still higher for women than it is for men ‘because non-graduate wages for women are so low’.

There are a myriad of factors that have contributed to this pay gap, as this Wonkhe article notes. For one, women make up a larger proportion of the workforce in the voluntary sector, which tends to pay less competitively than profit-driven businesses. Other cultural factors, however, such as systemic sexism, present a more daunting task for universities, which will undoubtedly be put under pressure to enhance the careers support they provide for women students. ‘all in all’ the article concludes, ‘women are being failed by their universities in preparing them for the job market’. 


Grey is the new blue as age not class divides voting public

A large survey, conducted by the pollster YouGov, has found that age is becoming the strongest predictive factor of voting intention, surpassing class for the first time. This news comes following a surge in youth voter turnout, linked by the media to the personal appeal of Jeremy Corbyn. This article notes that ‘under-25s were least likely to have voted’ as is historically the case, ‘although more than 50 per cent did so’, which is up on previous years. Accordingly, the Guardian notes, student-heavy constituencies, including those in Newcastle, Manchester, Cambridge and Canterbury, ‘were among the top 22 constituencies that saw the highest increase in overall turnout’.

It is thought that 66% of voting 18 and 19 year olds supported Labour in this month’s election, whereas 69% of over 60s voted Conservative. A spokesperson for YouGov is quoted as saying that ‘for every 10 years older a voter is, their chance of voting Tory increases by around nine points and the chance of them voting Labour decreases by nine points’. In comparison, ‘Labour was just four points behind the Tories among professionals and other middle-class voters and two points behind among low-skilled and unskilled workers’.

Education is another demarcating factor. YouGov claims that ‘while the Conservatives’ support decreases the more educated a voter is, the opposite was true for Labour and the Lib Dems’. The same was true in last year’s EU referendum.


Highlights from the week’s papers

Using laptops in class harms academic performance. Researchers say students who use a computer score half a grade lower than those who write notes.

‘Blame the poor, not Brexit’ – this article responds to the Telegraph’s inflammatory claim that social mobility has caused UK universities to fall in world rankings.



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