Graduates in Scotland can expect to earn more than their counterparts across the rest of Britain five years after leaving university, with top salaries of £61,000.
But younger women workers still face a “staggering” gap in pay compared with their male colleagues even at this early stage in their careers, prompting fresh anger over a “lifetime of pay discrimination”.
The truth is that the reward is higher for men and that female graduates face a lifetime of pay discriminationANNA RITCHIE ALLAN Director, Close the Gap
The figures are revealed in the Graduate Outcomes data collected by universities, which tracked those who graduated in 2009-10 and looked at their earnings in the 2015-16 tax year.
Scotland’s university graduates make an average of £27,100 compared with £25,800 UK-wide, with doctors, economists and vets among those making the most money.
St Andrews University economics graduates are the highest earning coterie of graduates in Scotland, according to the figures, with median pay of £61,300 just five years after leaving university.
Medicine and dentistry courses at Aberdeen University are the next most lucrative to study north of the Border, leading to a salary of £49,800.
Across all Scots universities, medicine and dentistry graduates make the most, with £48,100 median average salaries compared with £46,600 across Britain.
Vets are next with a salary of £35,300, again up on the GB median total, while economists make an average of £35,000, although this is almost £3,000 down on graduates Britain-wide.
At the other end of the scale, creative arts and design graduates at the University of Highlands and Islands can expect a salary of just £11,600.
A spokesman for Universities Scotland said graduates from institutions north of the Border are highly valued by employers.
He said: “Graduate earnings are not the be-all and end-all for evaluating the success of our students as the value of a career should be measured by more than salary alone, but this is further confirmation that graduates from Scottish universities are thriving.
“Five years after graduating, the median average salary is higher than the British average.
“The data does suggest that graduates from Scottish universities are highly valued by employers. Credit for that should be shared between the students themselves and the work of those at universities, from lecturers and academic support to student welfare services.”
But the stark divide in pay between men and women has prompted fresh calls for employers to implement equal wage reviews to address the problems.
Male workers are earning more in Scotland in all the better-paid fields including engineering, economics, medicine and sciences, with only education showing parity.
Even in female-dominated areas such as nursing, men enjoy median average pay of £30,200 across the UK, while women earn £27,300.
The gulf in pay at this early stage in careers comes despite girls outperforming boys at every stage of education and in almost every subject area.
Anna Ritchie Allan, executive director of equal pay campaign group Close the Gap, said it was now clear women were not “fairly rewarded” in the workplace.
She said: “It’s staggering that male graduates in 83 per cent of subjects earn more than their female counterparts. It also shows widespread pay inequality related not only to male-dominated qualifications such as engineering, but also in female-dominated qualifications like nursing.
“Young people are taught that if they work hard and study, it will improve their chances of getting a good job.
“But the truth is that the reward is higher for men and that female graduates face a lifetime of pay discrimination.”
Scottish Conservative education spokeswoman Liz Smith said the high income levels by Scottish graduates was “testament to the strength” of Scottish universities.
SNP MSP Jenny Gilruth said the figures were in part down to the success of free education for Scottish students.