Earning Capacity of Sustainable Education

A Review of Current Perceptions Regarding the Salaries, Under-employment and Over-education of Higher- Education Graduates and their Potential Application in Sustainability Assessments


  • Antonios Maragakis TU Delft, Architecture and the Built Environment
  • Andy van den Dobbelsteen TU Delft, Architecture and the Built Environment




There is a growing need to understand the economic returns of degrees as a function of a sustainable institution. The empirical data presented in this paper suggests that there is a difference between the economic perception of higher education stakeholders and reality. The data showed that the most important economic metric for a graduate is full-time employment. This metric, although important, is incomplete and does not address other important factors such as starting salaries and under-employment. This indicates a gap between reality and perception considering stakeholders expectation that education should not cost more than of 15% of future salaries and that the debt be repaid in less than ten years. Student’s focusing on full-time employment rather than the holistic economic realities of their educational choices may lead to an unsustainable future which is currently not captured in higher education sustainability assessments.






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