Who are gaining the highly paid elite placements in UK higher education?

Zhiqi Wang, Ian Crawford

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Citations (SciVal)


This study analyses longitudinal student data to determine the influence of social class, academic performance and other individual factors such as gender, ethnicity and age on entry on the possibility of obtaining highly paid placements in elite professions. Focusing on subject-relevant placements, the findings here strongly support the meritocratic recruitment and rewarding process for such work experience schemes. Prestigious and highly paid placements in elite professional firms are not filled by socially privileged upper-middle-class students but the academically ‘brightest’ students from a wide range of social and individual backgrounds. Excellent academic performance has been interpreted by elite firms as equivalent to high levels of employability skills and productivity. Finally, there is evidence to suggest that well-paid placements can facilitate socio-economic mobility of working-class students who are academically driven and aspire to gain work experience with elite professional firms despite limited economic resources at their disposal.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-15
Number of pages15
JournalStudies in Higher Education
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 21 May 2018


  • Placements
  • academic ability
  • elite professions
  • gender
  • salaries
  • social class

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education


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