Press release

MillionPlus comment on HESA graduate premium report

22 Oct 2019

MillionPlus, the Association for Modern Universities, has today (22 October) commented on the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) report, The Return to a Degree. The report examines the extent to which the financial return to a degree has changed across two decades.

Dr Greg Walker, Chief Executive of MillionPlus, said:

“HESA’s study shows yet again there is a significant positive financial return to higher education study even very early in a graduate’s career - at age 26 - in addition to the wider benefits HE brings to former students and society. That there has been a dip in returns for the generation who joined the workforce in the aftermath of the Great Recession in 2008-09 is not surprising, given that this downturn was the deepest since the 1930’s. A strengthening economy should mean a further upswing in the number of graduate-level roles and entrepreneurial opportunities. As HESA notes itself, the report should be taken with caveats due to unavailability of data and a consideration of only the financial returns of a degree to the exclusion of other important features of being a graduate. We should consider the ‘all round’ benefits of higher education to graduates, such as better health, greater self-esteem and the general personal transformation it brings.”


Notes to editors

  1. For further information or to arrange an interview, please contact Dan Blows on 020 3927 2916 or email
  2. MillionPlus is the Association for Modern Universities in the UK, and the voice of 21st century higher education. We champion, promote and raise awareness of the essential role and impact of modern universities in the UK’s world-leading higher education sector. More information can be found at
  3. What are modern universities? Modern universities are long established centres of higher education in their communities with roots that stretch back decades, if not centuries. Many gained university title following legislation agreed by parliament in 1992. They make up almost half of the UK university sector with over a million students studying at modern universities every year.
  4. Modern universities: facts and stats