Education all the way to the bank
Today I want to tell you about millionaires. More specifically, let us have a look at British millionaires, or rather, 436 of these. My interest in them was sparked by a recent survey conducted by investment advisers Skandia, the Millionaire Monitor+. This tells you all sorts of things about the people with lots of money, including something about their education. In fact, the Monitor+ gives us a whole new league table: the rankings for universities with millionaire graduates. Seriously.
So who is top of these very expensive pops? Actually, it’s the University of London – though that’s not really fair, because the University of London contains a number of autonomous ‘elite’ institutions which are all banded together in this table. Second and third are Oxford and Cambridge. So far, so predictable. In fact, one newspaper report on this particular league table suggested that the list is dominated by Russell Group universities. That’s not really true, because alongside Oxbridge, and indeed Scotland’s St Andrews and Edinburgh, we also find Aston University (at number 10), the Open University (number 12), the new (post-1992) universities of Portsmouth and Brighton (at 15 and 16), and indeed Greenwich university (number 20). A few Russell Groupers don’t make an appearance at all.
And here’s another thing. A significant proportion of these higher educated millionaires went to private schools. Indeed, St Andrews scores highest on this aspect: a majority of its super rich graduates got to St Andrews via private education.
Does all this actually tell us anything at all? Or is it just that even the maddest criteria can serve for a league table? I would want to be careful with my conclusions, but it may be possible to argue that, on the one hand, inherited wealth seeks out universities with a reputation for receiving the social elite; but that when it comes to educating the successful entrepreneurs of tomorrow, these come from a much more diverse set of institutions. Once you exclude millionaires who had a private school education, Brighton University performs more or less as well as St Andrews in the millionaire graduate stakes. So if you don’t have lots of money but do have lots of ambition, most universities can help you equally well.
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