Economists concluded that appearing on "Love Island", a hit ITV show would likely boost participants' lifetime earnings substantially more than if they attended and graduated from Oxford or Cambridge. Bloomberg cited findings by the economics consultancy Frontier Economics, who concluded that those lucky enough to be admitted to the Mediterranean villa in search of love, as well as fame and fortune, may on average realistically expect accumulated earnings totalling £1.1 million. This figure outstrips by a large margin, the projected financial benefits of studying at the University of Oxford or its counterpart on the shores of Cam.

Statistically, Oxbridge graduates are likely to earn about £815,000 more over their lifetime than their peers who did not get a chance to attend a much-coveted uni. The disparity appears to be even wider when factoring in the debt accrued during studies, which according to estimates by the Institute for Fiscal Studies averages a hefty £50,000.

'Love Island', cash cow for the young and fortunate

The ultimate goal for the TV show's victorious couple is to find true love, yet in addition to that they will receive £50,000, and they are free to choose whether the money is to be shared or risk it losing. But the bulk of the earnings comes once the contestants leave the show, and is generated through sponsored Instagram posts, club appearances and a huge social media following.

Calculating on the basis of the typical rates for sponsored activities of this kind, Frontier Economics figured out that for contestants who managed to survive in the villa for the series full duration expected earnings may total £2.3 million over the next five years. The winning couple may realistically expect a slightly bigger figure, as their expected return would total £2.4 million.

Even though these figures apply to the “original crew” only, those less lucky ones who join the cast later and thus have a far greater chance of an early exit can still expect to earn about £800,000 over the five years following their TV stint.

Desire to get on reality TV perfectly rational

Taking all these factors into the equation, researchers believe that young Britons appear to be completely rational in their desire to appear on "Love Island" which draws in 2.7 million viewers every night it is aired.

Not surprisingly, earlier this summer it emerged that the cult show attracted more applications from young people than Oxford and Cambridge universities combined, even though the latter two top the Times Higher Education world university rankings. The numbers are telling: the show's 2018 series was inundated with 85,000 applications, compared with only 37,000 applications for undergraduate degree courses at Oxbridge. Sure, a week's or even months-long reality TV experience can be quite exhausting, both physically and emotionally, not talking about the reputational cost of embarrassing oneself live on air. But so inevitably, will be a full course of study at a top university, with its challenging coursework, constant mental stress and worries about the student debt.