We exploit individual-level administrative data for whole populations of UK university students for the leaving cohorts of 1985-1993 to investigate the determinants of graduate occupational earnings. Among other results, we find that there are significant differences in the occupational earnings of leavers, according to university attended, subject studied, and degree class awarded, ceteris paribus. We also find that the premium associated with the award of a high degree class increased between 1985/6 and 1993/4, a period of substantial expansion in the graduate population. We suggest that this is consistent with a signalling model of the returns to higher education qualifications
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