UK Millionaires: Where and what they studied

We always hear stories of uni dropouts that become millionaires but what about actual UK graduates?UK Millionaire Graduates

Most of us dream of being filthy rich and there are lots of ways to reach that goal. Some people have exceptional talents, some pray for lottery jackpots and some follow every ‘get rich quick’ scheme that comes to town, many more go to university first.

It’s more than possible for uni graduates to become millionaires and we’ve written a step by step guide on how to go from student to millionaire, but if you  still think it’s impossible, here are nine true life stories that might change your mind.

These are some of the UK’s finest university-educated millionaires, with the full deets on what they studied and how university helped them get where they are today.

Rowan Atkinson

Rowan Atkinson DegreeThe ‘Johnny English’ star is now worth £60 million. Before he found fame as an actor, comedian and screenwriter, Rowan Atkinson had ‘bean’ a student of electrical engineering.

He completed his undergraduate degree at Newcastle University before going on to study a master’s degree in the subject at the University of Oxford.

It was during his time at university that he met fellow-screenwriter Richard Curtis and came up with the idea for the hilarious ‘Mr Bean’.

Whilst studying at Oxford, Atkinson wrote and performed several sketches. His university life provided him with the experience, confidence and connections to excel.

Christopher Nolan

Christopher Nolan DegreeAward-winning director of ‘Inception’, ‘The Prestige’ and the latest Batman trilogy, Christopher Nolan has come a long way since his uni days.

He is now worth a cool £60 million, despite only leaving University College London (UCL) 20 years ago. Nolan is also the youngest director to have been honoured with a hand and footprint ceremony at the world-famous TCL Chinese Theatre in Los Angeles.

Although he read English Literature, Nolan admired UCL for its outstanding film-making facilities. He quickly rose to President of the university’s Film Society and created several films alongside his studies. Both his degree and his extra-curricular activities at UCL supported Nolan’s interests, allowing him to find his true calling.

J K Rowling

J K Rowling DegreeEveryone knows J K Rowling as the author of the best-selling Harry Potter series, but not many people realise that, before that, she actually read French and Classics at the University of Exeter.

No doubt this essay-based subject assisted her later writing. University also provided an opportunity to meet like-minded people. She is now the highest self-made woman on the UK rich list.

Sacha Baron Cohen

Sacha DegreeVery nice… From Ali G to Sweeney Todd’s Adolfo Pirelli, Sacha Baron Cohen is a truly versatile actor and comedian. In 1990, he matriculated at the University of Cambridge, just as UK millionaires Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie had done before him.

Baron Cohen chose Cambridge for its prestigious reputation and prolific acting opportunities. Whilst reading history, he regularly participated in their Amateur Dramatic Club, where his acting skills were able to flourish.

Now worth nearly £70 million, Baron Cohen cannot deny that the skills he acquired at Cambridge have helped him reach his current stardom.

Sir Terry Leahy

Terry Leahy DegreeThe University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology (UMIST) is responsible for shaping this former Tesco Chief Executive.

A BSc in Management Sciences provided Leahy with the skills needed to expand the successful supermarket chain.  Leahy even devised the ‘Clubcard’ scheme – a money saving system invaluable to students today.

Chris Tarrant

Chris Tarrant DegreeChris Tarrant is known for asking the question ‘who wants to be a millionaire?’ but when he first entered the hallowed halls of the University of Birmingham, he could only dream of actually being one himself.

Tarrant read English at Birmingham, after declining an Oxford scholarship. His English degree gave him the writing and communication skills needed to become a successful television personality.

The University of Birmingham boasts the highest proportion of self-made UK millionaires; an astounding 84% of their rich graduates became wealthy on their own.

David Gill

David Gill DegreeDavid Gill was the Manchester United Football Club’s Chief Executive and a Vice Chairman of The Football Association (while they were still good), but he started his journey at the Birmingham Business School.

At Man United he was among the highest-paid directors, with a staggering £2 million salary. With a clear head for business and an incredibly informative degree, there was no stopping him.

E L James

eljamesLove them or loathe them, we’ve all heard of the Fifty Shade of Grey books by now. What you might not know is that the woman behind the books is now thought to be worth more than £20 million.

The University of Kent graduate read history before launching herself into the world of erotic fiction in 2009. The essay-based subject was clearly a blessing as James didn’t even start out with a book deal, making use of self publishing sites online.

Sir Chris Hoy

chrishoyChances are you probably watched Sir Chris Hoy cycling to victory in the London 2012 Olympics. Olympic medals aside, the University of Edinburgh graduate is doing pretty well for himself – he’s estimated to be worth £52 million.

Perhaps unsurprisingly he graduated with a degree in applied sports science, but also spent a great deal of time training with Edinburgh City Racing Club. Figures really.


These are some of the most notable university-educated UK millionaires, but there are many more examples of brilliant Brits, and remember, there’s always room for more. Maybe your name will be featured on this prestigious list in a few years time?

It’s interesting to note that not one of these nine millionaires studied exactly the same topic as the one that made them rich – more often than not, it was the university societies they joined that gave them the extra-curricular skills they needed to succeed.

So if you have a passion, join your university’s society or set one up!

If you have been inspired by these glorious graduates, make sure to tell us your story via the comments section below!

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