Male graduates earn slightly more than women just one year after graduating from a Creative Arts and Design course.

Photo of performance

Students in Creative Arts and Design earn less than students in any other subject after leaving university, newly released figures from the Department for Education (DfE) show.

The median salary for graduates in creative subjects was £14k one year after graduating, rising to £20k after five years. By comparison, graduates in Medicine & Dentistry can expect a median salary of £36k one year after graduating, rising to £47k five years later.

Bottom place

Earnings for graduates in creative subjects were recorded as 23rd on a list of 23 subjects investigated, which included Education, Law, Agriculture and Architecture.

At the five-year mark, half of creative graduates were earning between £18,000 and £22,000, though salaries ranged from a low of £10k to a high of £28k.

Only ‘Subjects Allied to Medicine (excluding Nursing)’ had a low-end salary range which was as small as the creative subjects, and the top-end salary range in creative subjects was far behind the high of £71,700 for Business & Administrative Studies.

These findings, based on information from the DfE, Department for Work and Pensions, and Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC), reflect the results of a recent survey by the Jerwood Charitable Foundation. This suggested almost three-quarters of people in the arts worked for free before finding paid employment.

Gender gap

The new data, which is split by sex and Higher Education Institution (HEI) as well as subject, focuses on employment and earnings outcomes in the 2014/15 tax year. It relates to those who graduated with an undergraduate degree in 2008/09, 2010/11 and 2012/13.

Although the differences for creative subjects are small, the data reveals that median earnings for men across the UK are higher than those for women, even just one year after graduation.

The data is consistent with research by AP, which uncovered a stark gender pay gap in the arts. A 2015 survey found that women earned up to £5k less than men at similar stage in their careers, despite being better educated. Men’s average earnings were higher in almost every type of job, artform, region and age group.

The gender gap for creative graduates is also reflected in salary ranges. Five years after graduating, half of all women earned from £13,300 to £26,000, while the range for men was from £13,500 to £27,100.

Employment prospects

This pay gap exists despite women outnumbering male graduates in creative subjects and having a slightly higher rate of sustained employment or engagement with further study.

In the period 2008/09 to 2013/14, 18,700 women graduated in Creative Arts and Design. By 2015, 81.1% were in sustained employment, further study, or both. In contrast, only 80.3% of the 12,000 male graduates in Creative Arts and Design were in sustained employment or further study or both.

Speaking about the data, which contextualises income for creative graduates for the first time, recently re-appointed Culture Minister Matt Hancock said its publication was a “big step forward for informed choice”.