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Private school pupils earn more with the same qualifications, says study

Privately educated pupils earn more in later life than their state-school counterparts, even if they attended the same university and secured the same qualifications, new research has shown.

The study, published today, found a 7 per cent difference between workers with the same degree from the same university three and a half years after graduating.

Even when researchers looked at graduates in the same job, former private-school pupils tended to earn 6 per cent more than colleagues in the same occupation who attended state schools.

The research, produced by the Institute for Fiscal Studies and funded by the Nuffield Foundation, looked at the earnings of graduates who left university in 2007 and were in work in 2011.

The report found that graduates who attended a private school earned 17 per cent more, on average, than their state-school peers.

The discrepancy was partly down to the fact that private-school students were more likely to go to the top research-led universities and study subjects that would lead to more highly paid jobs. But even after these differences were accounted for, private pupils still earned more. 

Dr Claire Crawford from the University of Warwick, which carried out the research, said school type was a major determining factor when it came to earning power, regardless of qualifications.

“Education is often regarded as a route to social mobility. But our research shows that, even among those who succeed in obtaining a degree, family background – and particularly the type of school they went to – continues to influence their success in the workplace,” Dr Crawford said.

“These results suggest that there is a pressing need to understand why private schooling confers such an advantage in the labour market, even among similarly achieving graduates, and why higher education does not appear to be the leveller it was hoped to be.”

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