Azara Blog: Surprise, graduates earn more than non-graduates

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Date published: 2011/04/06

The BBC says:

People with degrees earned an average of £12,000 a year more than non-graduates over the past decade, statistics show.

The mid-point salary of graduates aged 22 to 64 was £29,900, compared with £17,800 for non-degree holders, the Office for National Statistics found.
...
Universities Minister David Willetts said: "These interesting figures vindicate our approach.

"Taxpayers who don't go to university tend to earn less than those that do.

"So it's reasonable for graduates to contribute more to the cost of their education, especially given the economic problems we face as a country."

The BBC slant in the article itself is fair enough, they just report various statistics. Unfortunately the person who wrote the headline for the article was not so bright, because that said "Degree can add £12,000 to salary, figures show" and of course the figures show no such thing. They just show that graduates earn that much more, and it's quite likely that even if universities were completely abolished, these people would still earn more (although exactly how much more we do not know). University graduates are, after all, allegedly the brightest kids in the nation.

It's bad enough that the BBC headline writer is confused. Worse is that the Universities Minister David Willetts is equally confused. The figures do not "vindicate" his approach, because he knows full well that the exact split in payment between government and student is completely arbitrary. And he also does not seem to understand that people who earn more pay more tax, so graduates are on the whole paying for their education. It is unfortunate that the current government has people in it who are no brighter than the last, Labour, lot.

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