A study of official data shows that delaying university typically leaves graduates almost £4,500 per year better off.
People who delay university until after the age of 21 start their careers earning 25% more than those who go straight from school.
A study of official data from the Higher Education Statistics Agency by Pearson Business School has found that mature graduates of undergraduate degrees earn, on average, £4,389 per year more than those graduating under 25.
The gap between mature and non-mature business students is even wider, with older university leavers earning almost £5,000 per year more than their younger classmates.
Roxanne Stockwell, Principal of Pearson Business School’s parent institution, Pearson College London, attributes the increased earning power to the greater experience and life skills that mature students hold.
According to the most recent HESA figures, the average starting salary for graduates under 25 is £20,009, while older graduates typically start work earning £24,529.
The analysis also shows that older graduates are 3.9% more likely to be in full-time employment 6 months after graduation than younger ones – a 1.6% increase on the previous year.
The research was produced by Professor Michele Russell-Westhead of Pearson College London, the UK’s first higher education provider founded by a FTSE 100 company.
Commenting on the pay and employment gap, Roxanne Stockwell, Principal of Pearson College London, said:
“This research goes to show that it truly is never too late to go to university.
“I am not surprised that mature graduates tend to earn more; employers rightly place a premium on their skills and life experience.
“Mature graduates are often more critical consumers of higher education – they tend to value good teaching, careers advice and work experience more than their younger classmates.”
Nick Hillman, Director of the Higher Education Policy Institute, said:
“This new research shows the benefits of higher education are bigger for those who don’t resemble the caricature of a young school leaver. Mature students have to jump over obstacles to reach higher education, but the risk is worth it because employers are prepared to pay for their real-world expertise. It is further proof that higher education has the potential to transform lives.”