A 2.1 can boost your graduate salary

graduate salary

By Pamela Head,

A borderline 2.1 degree can earn you £2,000-a-year more for your graduate salary than someone with a high 2.2 degree, research revealed this week.

A study into the ‘2.1 effect’ by Andy Feng and Georg Graetz, two PhD students at the LSEE's Centre for Economic Performance has revealed that just one mark could make a huge difference to the size of your graduate pay packet. They studied a sample of graduates who scraped a 2.1 and those who fell just short of the mark and discovered that just six months after graduating, those on the upper second class side were earning significantly more.

In Layman’s terms, this means that if you scraped a 60 and a 2.1 in your finals, you’d get more money than someone with 59 and a 2.2, despite being broadly of the same academic standard. Over a 40-year career, this amounts to around £80,000 extra.
Considering the difference can be as little as one mark, one mistake on one paper, one extra sentence in that essay, these results seem ridiculous and put a great deal of pressure on to students to achieve it.

Mr Feng said: “These higher salaries were caused by the 2:1 effect and nothing else. These were students who were broadly the same academic level and it was just a matter of what side of the threshold they fell.”

But how can this be? Many jobs have what is known as the 2.1 requirement, where you are automatically binned if you have not achieved the golden grade. This enables the employers to immediately cut that staggering pile of applications in half, and no consideration is made as to what mark you actually achieved.

It may seem unfair, but that one tiny digit on your application could affect your ability to get a job. If this happens, then it could be more than just earning less. It could be the difference between being employed or not.

Of course, this article is not about scaring you into hopelessness. There are plenty of careers who will consider 2.2s or thirds. If you’re the right person for the company, then you stand as good a chance as any. But it is always worth trying to plan for a bad module by investing time in extra-curricular activities.

Any employer will probably tell you that someone with a 2.2 with experience to prove they’re ready to join the working world as part of a team compared to someone with a 2.1 and no experience is a no-brainer.

So what if you have a 2.2? You, unlike that seemingly perfect 2.1 graduate, have a whole host of experience to talk about in the interview. Experience of teamwork, of meeting deadlines, effective communication and maybe even leadership.

The news may look scary, but it really isn’t your degree that lands you the job… it’s what you do with it and your time at university as a whole that’ll land you that coveted position.

Our university course search lets you sort universities and colleges by average graduate salaries.