Students will be able to see potential incomes based on what subjects they study

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Under radical new government plans to open up data to the public, students will be able to see how much they could earn depending on the subjects they study.

The government is working to allow the public access to vast amounts of anonymised information that reveal the earnings of everyone paying tax in the UK. This will then be cross-referenced with data of past students studying at further colleges, which is also held by the government. This will for the first time allow people to compare potential earnings from specific courses at further colleges and universities.

Importantly, the data will eventually include data on the earnings of past apprentices, and even more comprehensively, school leavers. This could mean that pupils will be able to see how much former pupils at their schools went on to earn, as well as which subjects lead to more lucrative incomes.

The idea has American roots as Matthew Hancock, minister for the Cabinet Office reportedly came across a similar system in the US last month and was impressed by such possibilities of data analysis.

This is a prime example of a burgeoning field of Big Data analysis, which is also being exploited in sectors such as FinTech and Health.

Mr Hancock said: “It’s hugely exciting that the Government is now embracing new ways of solving common problems. There’s a huge opportunity to use new technology to make sure that every young person gets the best start in life. We want to seize that opportunity to help everyone achieve their full potential.”

However, such an ambitious initiative is likely to attract criticism from academic circles who will be quick to point out that financial gain should not be the only way students decide what subjects they should pursue.