The University Graduate Premium

This blog entry is a result of having watched tonight’s episode of Q&A. Unsurprisingly, Joe Hockey failed epically, but that’s not the point…

The point of this post is this constant mention of the $1 million university graduate premium. In effect, what it means it that university graduates will earn $1 million more than their non-university graduate counterparts over their lifetimes.

I wonder how old these calculations are? I suspect that they are very much out of date.

Admittedly, this is just one data point, but I have to question the validity of the claims of a $1 million graduate premium.

My brother and I are both in our early-mid 30’s. I’m slightly older. We both attended the same schools growing up.

I graduated high school, went on to do a BSc with honours (with the HECS debt to boot), and ended up completing a PhD. I work as a postdoctoral researcher.

My brother dropped out of high school just before graduating grade 12 (long story, don’t ask), joined the military, and now works in commercial shipping.

He earns twice what I earn. He never even finished high school. I have a PhD.

Where exactly is the graduate premium?

I don’t begrudge him earning what he earns. But let’s be honest here. Having a university degree no longer means what it used to mean. Tradies earn more than most university graduates. That’s fine. But the government has the temerity to actually justify cuts to the higher education budget by claiming that uni students will make up for it when they graduate?

No. I call shenanigans.


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