Postgraduate students are rich

I used the Institute for Fiscal Studies’ “where do you fit in” calculator the other day, which, given your household size, number of dependent children, council tax and post-tax earnings, calculates your income in relation to the rest of the UK population. Though the standard research council annual stipend of £13 590 doesn’t sound much compared to what other graduates are expected to earn, it is income-tax and NI free, and as a student I pay no council tax. I also live in the City of Dreams, where the cost of living is not so high as other parts of the UK (though the calculator doesn’t look at this). What are my results?

I live with one other similarly-funded student, so I entered a combined household income of £28 000 (a few hundred extra each per year for teaching/marking), 0 children and £0 council tax. This means my household has a higher income than 66% of the population (red bar in image below).

UK income distribution histogram

UK income distribution

Not bad for students eh? If we had one dependent child aged 0-14, the calculator estimates we’d have a greater income than 52% of the population.

Other thoughts: If I lived on my own, my household income would be greater than 49% of the population. If I quit now, moved into a flat on my own and got a graduate software development job at, say £30 000 a year (pre-tax), depending on my council tax (I’ll assume ~£2 000) and assuming I was making full student loan repayments, my household income would be more than 68% of the population.


  • Research council funded PhD students are really quite well off
  • Children are expensive