London - Engineering is the most common degree among the world’s top billionaires, according to researchers.

More than a fifth of the 100 wealthiest people studied the subject, which accounts for twice as many billionaires’ university courses as the next most popular choice - business.

Engineering graduates are the richest of their prosperous peers.

They have an average wealth of £17.3-billion, compared with a net worth of £16.1-billion for those without a degree and £15.1-billion for those who studied finance.

The findings will add weight to calls for more youngsters to consider studying engineering, which has traditionally been seen as less popular than arts subjects.

Last year, education charity Sutton Trust found those taking engineering can earn 55 percent – or £8 000 – more than design and creative arts graduates six months after leaving university. Yesterday’s results will also bolster calls for more children to study science and maths A-levels – which are typically needed to take an engineering degree.

Recent figures show only 19 percent of girls who scored an A* in GCSE physics chose the subject as one of their A-levels.

For boys, the figure was just under half. Last year, Education Secretary Nicky Morgan called on schools and parents to encourage more children to choose maths, science and technology.

She said too many young people were making subject choices aged 15 that were “holding them back for the rest of their lives”.

The latest findings, by the business-to-business buying platform Approved Index, found that business degrees were now the second most popular among the world’s wealthiest.

Just 9 percent read an arts subject at university, 8 percent studied economics and around 3 percent opted for finance.

The university where the degree is studied can also have a significant impact on earnings. An Oxbridge education bumps up a starting salary by £7 600, according to the Sutton Trust.

A separate study found that a degree from the London Business School is the most lucrative for British alumni.

There are 2 325 billionaires in the world with a combined net worth of $7.29-trillion.

The latest research analysed their education by examining Forbes magazine’s list of the richest 100 people in the world.

However, the report suggests multi-millionaires in the making might be better off starting out straight from school, as almost a third of those on the list do not have degrees.

Microsoft founder Bill Gates, the wealthiest person in the world, with a fortune of around £53-billion, dropped out of his studies at Harvard University.

Mark Zuckerberg, creator of Facebook, also left the university before finishing his degree. He is now worth £22.4-billion.

Amy Catlow, who is the director of Approved Index, said: “These findings add a new dimension to the debate about the relevance and the value of a degree today - and suggest that in order to have a thriving and diverse economy, we need to encourage a varied range of specialisms.”

Daily Mail