The IFS analysis also found that the cost to the taxpayer differs by type of institution as well as subject. Graduates from Russell Group universities – who are typically high earning – cost the government less than £25,000 each, on average.
Meanwhile, costs are more than 20 per cent higher for “post-1992” universities, where the average graduate earns much less.
David Palfreyman, director of the Oxford Centre for Higher Education Policy Studies, said that the “fixation” with going to university “sends us off down the wrong track”.
“I take the view that it’s better to train as a plumber and if you really think it’s better to be a philosophical plumber, you do an Open University degree at age 40,” he said.
He said that “even if one is a bit sniffy” about creative arts, the same applies to teachers and nurses, many of whom also fail to repay their loans in full but whose jobs are vital for society.
A previous IFS report found that almost eight in ten graduates will never pay back their full student loan under the new tuition fees system.
The number of graduates who fail to clear their debt before it is written off has almost doubled since 2011, when the Government axed the old maintenance grants in favour of a loan system.
Under the new system, 77.4 per cent of graduates will never fully repay their debts, compared to 41.5 per cent of graduates under the previous system.
It was reported last year that university tuition fees could be cut to £6,500, under proposals from a commission established by the Prime Minister to recommend higher education reforms.
In 2017, Theresa May ordered a review of post-18 education led by Philip Augar, a former equities broker. It is due to report to the Department for Education in January, almost a year after it was set up.
The Prime Minister came under pressure on the issue after it was felt that Jeremy Corbyn’s pledge to abolish tuition fees won support from young voters in last year’s general election.