A student’s Leaving Cert points, the type of school they attended, and where they studied all influence how much they earn after college.
The Higher Education Authority (HEA) has undertaken research with the Central Statistics Office (CSO) to establish the factors that influence higher earnings.
The project includes information from Revenue, the Department of Social Protection, and the Department of Education and Skills.
Digging into the factors that influence graduate earnings by comparing ‘like-for-like’ graduates, the research focused on people who received the same grade, are of the same gender, and are from the same county.
It also looked at students who entered higher education at the same time, had the same performance in the Leaving Certificate, attended the same type of second-level school, and who work in the same sector.
When looking at these factors it found a gap of €154 between the highest and lowest average predicted earnings for undergraduates.
Using just raw data from undergraduates, this gap in average weekly earnings was even higher at €257.
Graduates of Dublin universities and teacher education colleges generally had the highest weekly earnings, using the raw data, while graduates of regional Institutes of Technology generally had the lowest.
Colleges that provide teacher education see relatively high earnings amongst their graduates; €713 per week for St Angela’s College, €703 per week for St Patrick’s College, Drumcondra, and €678 per week for Mary Immaculate College.
When comparing ‘like-for-like’ graduates, the average predicted earnings from universities generally decreases, while the predicted earnings for Institutes of Technology increases.
According to the HEA, a large part of the differences across institutions can be explained by differences in the subjects offered and differences in student characteristics, such as Leaving Certificate points and second-level school type.
At St Patrick’s, 94% of graduates achieved over 400 points in their Leaving Cert, and 87% of graduates at Trinity College Dublin, compared to 3% of graduates at IT Blanchardstown.
More university graduates previously attended a fee-paying school compared to a DEIS school, with the reverse being true for Institutes of Technology.
After accounting for students’ subject choice, gender, second-level school attended, or Leaving Cert points, there is still a difference in earnings across higher education institutions.
Dr Alan Wall, chief executive of the HEA, said the dataset will help institutions provide students with appropriate career advice and relevant information on their course choices.
The Technological Higher Education Association (THEA) said it should inform public policy and funding initiatives in order to target funds to where they are most needed.
Gearóid Hodgins, THEA director of corporate affairs, said: “The report points to the fact, for example, that certain areas, such as the northwest, would benefit greatly from inward investment in order to support high earning potential roles for graduates who wish to stay working and living in their home region following graduation.”