Employers in finance, IT, compliance and data analysis hire most overseas graduates

An analysis of 32,000 university graduates working in the UK has revealed employers are paying a premium of up to 30 per cent to foreign graduates.

The analysis, by crowd-sourcing data firm emolument.com, confirmed that for jobs with the highest proportions of foreign graduates, such as finance (28 per cent), compliance (20 per cent), IT (17 per cent) and data analysis (18 per cent), employers are prepared to pay more to attract skilled talent from abroad.

The data showed that in the finance sector median compensation (salary plus bonus) for graduates from British institutions who have worked for a firm for up to four years was £50,000 a year. In comparison graduates from foreign universities, who make up almost a third of graduate employees in the sector, collected £65,000 a year, which is equal to a 30 per cent premium.

Higher pay premiums were found in other sectors where skills are in demand. For example, British university graduates working in data analysis and data science were paid an average of £30,000 a year compared with £40,000 for foreign graduates in the same sector, representing a 30 per cent top up on pay.

Foreign graduates can also command higher rewards for their qualification in IT and software development, and compliance work where the difference between people with degrees from British universities and overseas awarding bodies is 18 per cent and 11 per cent respectively.

Interestingly, sectors with the lowest proportions of graduates from foreign universities also showed evidence of pay premiums.

In the media industry, where foreign qualified workers account for 9 per cent of graduate employees, British graduates earned £27,000, while their overseas qualified peers picked up £30,000 - a pay different of 11 per cent. Data for jobs in architecture and real estate also revealed a pay premium of 9 per cent for foreign graduates.

Although in education, where teachers are in demand, and foreign grads account for 5 per cent of workers with degrees, people who studied at universities abroad were paid 2 per cent less.

Analysts from emolument.com suggested the differences between sectors may be because jobs in media or education require subtle and flawless written and spoken English, while language skills in more technical sectors such as banking and IT are not as critical.

Alice Leguay, co-founder and chief operating operator at emolument.com, said: “Many European graduates see the UK as an ideal location to kick off their careers, with flexible career paths - where else can a history degree land you in a finance job? – and a vibrant technological and entrepreneurial sector, as well as fiscal incentives all make the UK a land of opportunities. Equally, UK employers are keen to bring in highly skilled graduates as they struggle to find appropriately qualified staff in the UK due to a decline in science and maths education over the last 10 years.”