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The best UK universities for banking careers

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Perhaps unexpected, the top universities for finance are not necessarily the ones with a reputation for being business-focussed, but are rather historical institutions such as Oxford and Cambridge.

At the top of the table is Cambridge, whose students land an average salary of £91,000 in the finance sector, with Oxford University coming in close second with £85,000, and Edinburgh University third with £84,000. Next in line are Imperial College London (£80,000), London School of Economics (£79,000) and Bristol University (£74,000).

According to Emolument co-founder Alice Leguay: “It seems UK recruiters are less concerned about vocational course content giving more weight to a university’s reputation and prestige. Over the years, though, as finance has become more complex and required a higher proportion of employees to be versed in IT, financial engineering and economics, vocational technical and scientific degrees have climbed up in the return on investment charts (Imperial College is a good example). We expect to see this trend intensify in the coming years.”

Emolument also compiled a list of the universities whose female graduates are most likely to buck the pay gap trend.

“It is striking to see how many top academic institutions such as Cambridge University struggle to make the list for smallest gender gap, whilst Kingston and Manchester University have trumped the others with three per cent and five per cent respectively,” Leguay added.

Indeed, Kingston and Manchester University are at the top in terms of having the smallest pay gap. Third in line is Liverpool University with six per cent, Newcastle University at nine per cent, and Kent University at 11 per cent.

“North America is clearly ahead of the UK when it comes to managing the gap, with four universities in the table – Columbia University, Johns Hopkins University, Miami and University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill – showing no gap,” Leguay said. “In pure financial terms, they are also miles ahead of the UK with top universities yielding 30 per cent more when it comes to post degree earnings. American graduates are under more pressure to earn as much as possible to repay larger loans due to higher tuition costs.”

When it comes to salaries, Yale, which has been ranked as the best university for banking careers in the US and Canada, will yield £128,032.95 to students, with Harvard’s £125,393.09 in second place. Even Georgetown University, which ranks in tenth place, offers an average salary far beyond that of Cambridge – £106,254.15.

And when it comes to universities in the UK, if you’re a woman who wants the smallest pay gap but the highest earnings then Oxford University is the best place for you, said Leguay.

“As for US and Canada, women who want a smaller pay gap could go to Georgetown University,” she said. “If it’s all about the money then the traditional Ivy League options of Yale, Harvard and University of Penn are the best options.”

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