Uni not essential for success, but on average uni graduates do better

I’m disappointed news.com.au tonight features the really silly headline “Four reasons you should bypass uni”, under photos of Mark Zuckerberg, Steven Spielberg, Ellen DeGeneres and Richard Branson. Sure, you can be hugely successful without going to university, if you work incredibly hard and/or get lucky, but I don’t think it follows that you’re better off not going to university. After all, most people who don’t go to uni don’t end up hugely successful, and, of course, neither do most people who go to uni. But suggesting people may as well skip uni is really silly, given uni graduates on average earn higher incomes than non-graduates (see the chart below from the 2010 Skills for Jobs and Growth report). And it’s the averages that should matter in terms of providing advice at the population level.aveearnings

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2 Responses to Uni not essential for success, but on average uni graduates do better

  1. 800psi says:

    There’s a certain circularity to the Uni=$ argument. Smarter, more ambitious young people tend to go to university. We couldn’t be sure about the benefits of uni vis incomes unles people were selected at random to attend. For generalists, the bulk of higher education institution output, high-end employers tend to use degrees as their first stage screen to filter for the smart and ambitious, rather than the human capital gain of 3+ years in lectures.

    • Gene Tunny says:

      Yes, I agree partly. I admit it’s simplistic to just look at average earnings by qualifications. But the best practice econometric evidence from people like Andrew Leigh confirms there is an impact on earnings from uni education. The benefit will obviously vary across courses.

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