When you take the decision to attend university, one of the main things you will want to do is to make sure you have a fair chance of getting a good job when you get to the end of your course.

With this in mind, it makes a lot of sense to take a look at the top universities for graduate salaries, and what you can expect to earn when you complete a degree with them.

1. The Open University

Surprisingly, the highest ranked for graduate salary is the Open University – which isn’t a physical university at all.

The median salary here is £26,373, which is almost £2,000 higher than second place. Computing & IT holds the spot for the highest paying course.

It may be that those who study with the OU approach their study from a slightly different angle, with the focus being on the academics rather than the social side of study, therefore accounting for the higher salary.

2. University of London

In second place is the University of London, with a median salary of £24,453.

Civil Engineering holds first place for highest paid course graduates here, and it is likely that the location of the university has a lot to do with its place in the rankings.

Graduates may stay in the city to work after graduation, where salaries are higher than elsewhere anyway. This won’t be the only factor, but it is one to consider.

3. London School of Economics

LSE is an incredibly prestigious university where economics is concerned, and as such it has secured its place in the top 10 for graduate pay.

Once again, it is likely that many graduates will have been based in London, where pay will be higher, however this is not the only contributing factor.

4. Queen Mary University

Another Russell Group university, this place is also currently ranked 5th in the UK and is one of the top 50 in the world.

QMU is a global university with students from a wide range of backgrounds.

Here you may study at one of five campuses across London, or one of their international sites in China, Singapore, Malta, Greece and Paris.

5. University of Bath

Currently ranked 6th in the UK by the Guardian, the University of Bath's main campus is located in Claverton Down.

With a solid reputation for research and teaching excellence, it's no wonder this university leads to some of the best graduate salaries in the country.

It ranks in the top 10 of universities for its Accounting & Finance, Computer Science, Italian, Psychology and Marketing courses, according to the Complete University Guide. Bath is also the best university for Architecture, according to the league table.

Graduates can earn around £23,399 once they leave.

6. Brunel University, London

This public research university can be found in Uxbridge, West London, where it was founded in 1966.

It is a leading institution in technology, education and research, with over 13,000 students now attending.

Brunel's Anthropology, Music and Physiotherapy courses are ranked by the Guardian as some of the best in the UK.

7. Loughborough University

This university has maintained its top five ranking for two successive years in the Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide, and is currently the top university in the Midlands.

Opening a second campus in 2015, Loghborough is renowned internationally renowned for its sports courses and achievements.

Graduates here can expect to earn an average of £22,942 when they complete their degree.

8. University of Surrey

Having won the Queen's Anniversary Prize several times, it's no wonder that this university is one of the top in the country for teaching research excellence.

Its highly ranked subjects include Food Science, Electronic Engineering, and Drama and Dance. Graduates can expect to earn up to £26, 456 when they graduate.

9. University of Cambridge

Anyone who knows anything about universities knows that Cambridge is one of the most prestigious in the country – however this doesn’t match up with its place in the graduate salary table.

Although #9 is still a high ranking, it would seem to show that perhaps prestige doesn’t count for everything once outside of academia.

Graduates here can expect to earn between £19,030 and £26,576.

10. University of Southampton

With a heavy focus on research, this university is one of the founding members of the Russell Group.

Top subjects here include Physiotherapy, Music, Civil Engineering and Electronic Engineering.

Graduates can earn an average of £22,008 when they leave, as well as enjoying a great student experience.

How can I improve my chances of a higher graduate salary?

When you are studying for your degree, it can be easy to get carried away with academia, and the general university experience.

Although it’s good to live in the moment sometimes, you still need to ensure that you’re ready for life after graduation – as it can be daunting to enter the world of work for the first time.

Here are some tips about how to improve your starting salary:

Achieve strong results

The degree that you gain may help you to stand out from other candidates, so it is important that you do as well as possible – particularly if you have studied for modules that link directly with your career plan upon graduation.

Make key contacts in the industry

During university, you may get the chance to listen to lectures by guest speakers, or attend workshops held by people already working in the industry. This is a great way to make contacts, and make the first tentative steps into thinking about what might happen after graduation.

Get work experience

Lots of job roles now require experience, and this means that you will need to do something at the same time as studying for your degree. Unpaid experience might not seem enticing, but having it on your CV could make a big difference.

Be as well-rounded as possible

These days, employers don’t just want someone who can do the job. They want someone who can be a key part of the organisation in different ways, and a great way to prove you are this person is to be well rounded. This could be by taking part in different events, or joining societies at university – but you need to have something that you can talk about in your interview other than your academic skills.

There is no doubt that holding a degree from certain universities will help to improve your chances of a decent starting salary, however it isn’t by any means the only factor.

By taking all of the above into account, you should have the best possible chance of being awarded a starting salary that you will be pleased with.

Further information

For more information about choosing and applying to university, please see: