What LEO tells us about our business school graduates


By Simon Collinson. Chair, Chartered ABS; Deputy Pro-Vice Chancellor for Regional Economic Engagement, and Professor of International Business and Innovation, University of Birmingham

It is well-known that business schools add value, to other parts of the HE sector and more broadly to businesses and the economy. The average UK business school generates £33 million in revenue per year and contributes £12.6 million of that into university finances. Overall they provide £3.25 billion to the national economy and have a significant impact, regionally and nationally, from their research and teaching programmes.

New data from the Longitudinal Education Outcomes (LEO) survey shows how much graduates from different degree courses (grouped by JACS) at different universities earn, one, three, five, and ten years after graduating. From this we can tell that 5 years after graduation the very highest institutional median salary was in Business and Administration subjects (even higher than medicine and law).

However, the median earnings for Business and Administration degrees across the sector showed a comparatively wide variation, ranging from £19,400 to £71,700 with half of these falling between £23,100 and £31,300. Compared with other subjects the lowest quoted salary is quite high but the median is only at a middling level (10th out of 23). This confirms something the Chartered ABS has known for a long time; that business schools are inclusive, rather than elitist and cater to a wide range of students from different socio-economic backgrounds. Although the LEO survey just covers undergraduate provision the sector has a broad portfolio of schools, programmes and students with provision from exclusive, high-end and expensive senior executive programmes, through MBA’s, Masters, undergraduate and applied diplomas and apprenticeships.

Compared to other higher education subjects, business schools have always had a stronger focus on preparing their students for the world of work, at all levels. Employability of business undergraduates is above the average for university graduates and a business degree comes with a higher than average earning potential for a graduate entering employment for the first time.

One, less impressive statistic that comes out of the LEO survey is that Business and Administration has the 8th worst record in terms of the gender pay gap by university subject area. This presents a major challenge for those leading our business schools; we need to develop teaching programmes and learning environments which provide a much more balanced range of opportunities for all students. This effort should involve faculty and staff, particularly those with responsibility for student career services, work placements and employability training.