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Of the total number of entrances in 2013, some 130,000 went to Russell Group universities, while around 6,500 went to the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge, raising concerns that many top graduates are failing to secure the long term earning advantages seen by a minority of students.
However, Pam Tatlow, chief executive of the university think-tank, million , warned against the findings, saying that lifetime earnings are "affected by a range of factors, not least social background".
“With your chances of going to a top university nearly ten times higher if you come from a rich rather than a poor neighbourhood, it is vital that we redouble our efforts to improve access to these institutions.” He added: “The figures also show the importance of choosing the right degree and course.
With debts of £44,000 on average, returns from some degrees may mean going into a good apprenticeship offers a better deal for many students.” According to figures, Oxbridge students earn an average of £25,582 after graduating, although that drops to £23,613 when adjusted for other factors such as social class and gender.
“This new research shows how important it is that we enable low and middle income students with the ability to go to Oxbridge and other elite universities to fulfil their potential,” he said.Students from former private schools still earn more than their state-educated counterparts, it emerged.Economics and business is seen as the highest-earning Oxbridge subject, with graduates paid £32,378, followed by science and engineering (£27,570) and medicine (£27,129).Other words have been derived from the term Oxbridge, though none has achieved widespread recognition.The study – by the Sutton Trust – insisted adults with a degree were paid higher than the rest of the British workforce, with a typical graduate “premium” of 28 per cent for men and just over 50 per cent for women.