The gender pay gap among recent graduates is widest for those who went to Britain’s elite universities, a study has found.
Men who studied at one of the selective Russell Group institutions earn on average £28,000 within 15 months of graduating, compared to £24,000 for female peers.
The £4,000 salary gulf is larger than that of all other providers, according to the Higher Education Policy Institute (HEPI) report.
For non-Russell Group but nonetheless high-ranking universities, the gender pay gap is £2,000 (£25,000 vs £23,000).
Post 1992-institutions have a £1,000 gender pay gap (£23,000 vs £22,000) and for specialist universities it is £3,000 (£22,000 vs £19,000).
The report found men are much more willing than women to meet with future employers, obtain internships and ask for referrals.
Men who studied at one of the selective Russell Group institutions earn on average £28,000 within 15 months of graduating, compared to £24,000 for female peers
The gender pay gap among recent graduates is widest for those who went to Britain’s elite universities such as Oxford, pictured
HEPI’s report says the particularly large difference in the earnings of male and female graduates from Russell Group institutions was ‘striking’ and a ‘surprise’.
The think tank said Russell Group and specialist universities should drill down into the reasons for the large disparity, which does not result from differences in subject choices.
The overall graduate gender pay gap is not explained by subject of study, type of university attended, prior attainment, social background or ethnicity, the report concludes.
The think tank is calling on employers to ensure their recruitment and remuneration policies are fair, and it says the Government should ensure its evaluation of universities does not rely on data with gender biases.
The gender pay gap among graduates depending on the subjects they studied
Report co-author Bahram Bekhradnia, HEPI’s president and founder, said: ‘The critical conclusion arising from this study is that to make judgements about the value of universities and their programmes on the basis of the salaries earned by graduates is badly misguided and is ultimately sexist in its implications and effects.’
The study said: ‘It may be that by building a rapport with future employers, men are in a better position than women to gain better paid jobs, and to negotiate higher salaries.
‘This may be exacerbated by possible unconscious employer bias against female candidates.’
The paper also found that male students rate earning a high salary and seniority as most important, whereas female students are more likely to identify stability, a good work-life balance, company culture and contributing to a cause they feel is worthwhile.
The median salaries earned by men and women up to 10 years after graduating from universities
‘These differences in aspiration may contribute to the pay disparities between male and female graduates,’ the report says.
Report co-author Rachel Hewitt, director of policy and advocacy at HEPI, said: ‘Higher education provides women with an earnings premium compared to their non-graduate counterparts but, as this new analysis shows, female graduates still consistently earn less than male graduates.
‘There are some areas of particular concern, such as the large pay gap between male and female graduates of Russell Group universities. However, even among groups where the gap is smaller, such as among graduates of post-92 universities, the gender pay gap persists.’
She added: ‘We should be clear, particularly to the significant number of young women who now enter higher education, that the graduate gender pay gap is unacceptable and work together to combat it.’