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Finance isn’t the best way to change your life

If you want to be socially mobile… Avoid business, economics, or law. Study pharmacology.

The Sutton Trust, an eFinancialCareers Partner, has produced an extensive report analysing universities, studied subjects, and social mobility, using data from the UK government. It’s available here.

The report found that, predictably, STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) and LEM (law economics and management) subjects were the most likely degrees to assist in a student’s upwards “social mobility,” defined as the percentage of disadvantaged students become high earners. 

Pharmacology and computing – both STEM subjects – are best for upwards social mobility, followed by law, economics, and business.

Degrees that don't lead to much upwards social mobility include geography, languages, history and politics - all the humanities and the arts. 

The Sutton Trust ranked the degrees by multiplying the accessibility rate of a degree (the percentage of disadvantaged students studying it) with its probability of placing disadvantaged students into high earning categories after graduation. 

Medicine, historically seen as the Platonic ideal of social mobility, placed eighth. Despite generating a high amount of social mobility (63% - the highest on the list by some margin), its overall result was hamstrung by having an abysmally small access rate - hardly any disadvantaged students study it.

Professionals in the finance sector usually come from a business, economics, or (more rarely) a STEM background – but prospective pharmacology students are over twice as likely to be social mobile than both economics and business graduates. Let’s blame it on consultants.

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Have a confidential story, tip, or comment you’d like to share? Contact: Zeno.Toulon@efinancialcareers.com in the first instance.

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AUTHORZeno Toulon Reporter

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