TOP apprentices can expect to earn tens of thousands of pounds more during their lifetime than many university graduates, according to research.
But those who gain a degree from a top institution - including Oxford and Cambridge - are still likely to have the highest earnings, it suggests.
The study, published by the Sutton Trust, argues that a high-quality apprenticeship offers as much financial security as many undergraduate degrees, and warns that a cultural change is needed to raise the status of these vocational courses.
It calculates that youngsters who opt to study for a Level 5 higher apprenticeship - equivalent to a foundation degree - will earn around £1.44 million over their lifetime, almost £52,000 more than a student who studies at a non-Russell Group university - considered among the best institutions in the UK. These graduates can expect to take home around £1.39 million. Students from a Russell Group university will earn around £1.6 million, the study shows - around £160,000 more than someone who does a higher apprenticeship and around £212,000 more those who did not attend a top university.