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Aug 15, 2016 11:32 AM EDT

U.K. Degree-Holders Found To Have Low Earnings 10 Years After Graduation

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A new survey has revealed that about a third of degree-holders in the United Kingdom who graduated in 2004 still have low income 10 years after completing higher education. Specifically, these graduates are only earning around £20,000 a year.

The Guardian reported that a study by the U.K.'s Department of Education, named the Longitudinal Education Outcomes (LEO) dataset, is the first of its kind to track graduates as they make the transition from university to the workplace. The data is expected to help students choose a major in college.

The LEO survey revealed that the average earnings for a graduate were £16,500 one year after they left university in 2004. This figure increased to £22,000 after three years and rose to £31,000 in 2014. The data was not adjusted for inflation, though.

Moreover, the lowest quartile of graduate earners had it worse. A year after finishing college in 2004, their median earnings were only £11,500. It rose to £16,500 after three years and £20,000 after 10.

"The statistics are fairly clear," Alice Barnard, chief executive officer of the education charity the Edge Foundation, said. "Immediately after graduation, many graduates are either in jobs that didn't require a degree or didn't require the level of education they had got themselves to. They have invested not only time, energy and effort but also quite a lot of money and potentially come out the other side without the jobs they perhaps expected to get."

Some potential university recruits have begun to look for other career paths. One alternative is apprenticeships.

"Ten years down the line, if you're earning a huge amount you can say, 'well, I do feel that was value for money because my degree has taken me to this point'," she added. "What is concerning perhaps is that, 10 years after, graduate salaries stand at £31,000, which for a higher apprenticeship for companies like Jaguar Land Rover is fairly common after, say, two years."

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