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How Much Should You Be Paying Graduates?

The past few years have been a period of significant change, particularly in the hiring landscape.

Graduates offer unique skills and benefits for businesses and particularly during such a competitive hiring market, graduates are proving an appealing option for organisations looking to access a more diverse talent pool:

  • Ethnic diversity has increased in the undergraduate population from each minority ethnic group
  • In 2019-2020, 14.3% of fulltime undergraduate entrants reported having a disability, rising 5.8% from 2010-11
  • In 2019-20, 17.6% of fulltime entrants to higher education were eligible for free school meals

Universities have never provided a more diverse pool of talent than right now…

But if you’re thinking of hiring, how much should you be paying graduates?


As of 2022, the average graduate salary in the UK is £24,291.

Interestingly, this is a decrease from 2021 when the average salary was £25,466, which may be linked with the drastic shifts in the hiring landscape – the great resignation, the rise of remote roles, high demand and lower supply – though generally graduate salaries have been steadily rising up until this point.

However, factors such as subject, region, university, sector, in demand skills, and gender all play a key role in graduate salary expectations.

Additionally, graduate salary data can sometimes be misleading given that it can be based on large graduate employers in higher paying industries, which isn’t representative of the ‘average graduate’.

Long story short, it’s no wonder why employers are left scratching their heads over what exactly they should be paying graduates.

Average salary by subject

The lower end of the graduate salary scale generally falls on creative arts, historical and philosophical studies, and journalism, with salaries ranging between £16,000 and £21,000.

Rounding the top of the list are medicine and dentistry, medicine-related subjects, biological sciences, veterinary science, physical sciences, and computer science, with salaries ranging between £20,000 and £25,000 (depending on skill, with the lower end hitting around £18,000 and the highest end hitting £35,000 for highly skilled medicine and dentistry graduates).

One of the highest-paying starting salaries is actually in economics, averaging at £29,700.

Unsurprisingly, the highest average salaries tend to overlap with technical skills that are in high demand – for example, increasing innovative technology and infrastructure has resulted in engineering (across its different disciplines) being one of the highest paying degrees.

Average salary by region

It will come as no surprise that London is the location with the highest average graduate salary at £28,634, with Wales having the lowest average graduate salary at £22,420.

  • London: £28,634
  • South-East: £25,755
  • South-West: £25,199
  • East of England: £25,107
  • West Midlands: £24,552
  • North-East: £24,401
  • Scotland: £24,082
  • East Midlands: £23,233
  • Yorkshire and The Humber: £23,170
  • North-West: £22,912
  • Northern Ireland: £22,709
  • Wales: £22,420

Other factors to consider

If you’re looking to hire a graduate for an area experiencing skills shortages, such as computer science, engineering or nursing, it will be likely that you need to offer a higher graduate salary to attract and retain them, given that skills shortages are so prevalent in specific areas.

The salaries mentioned above for location are a good benchmark, but it should also be noted that hiring trends are moving increasingly towards models of benefits/incentives (e.g., career progression opportunities, flexible working), which can be a great way to level out a graduate salary for smaller organisations.

Though there isn’t any one-size-fits-all benchmark for graduate salaries, there are a few great starting points to implement in your graduate recruitment efforts.

If you’d like to use game-changing technology to streamline your recruitment process and hire the perfect graduate candidates, start hiring through Not a CV.

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