Tax Year 2018-19

Graduate outcomes (LEO): postgraduate outcomes

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Introduction

Graduate outcomes (Longitudinal Education Outcomes (LEO)): Employment and earnings outcomes for those who graduated with a level 7 (masters) or level 8 (doctoral) postgraduate degree by subject studied, current region and domicile.  

This release updates previously published figures with the latest available data (2018/19 tax year). These statistics do not include any impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. These are official statistics. For more information on what this means, please see the ‘Official statistics’ section at the end of this publication. 

Employment and earnings outcomes given are for postgraduates of an English Higher Education Institution (HEI), one, three, five and ten years after graduation (YAG), in the 2018/19 tax year, with comparisons to previous tax years from 2014/15 to 2017/18. UK domiciled and International (EU and non-EU domiciled) outcomes are separated. 

Comparisons are also made between postgraduate and first degree earnings and outcomes using data from the Graduate outcomes (LEO) publication. It should be considered that first degree graduates who go on to study at postgraduate level are a non-random subset of the first degree population, typically being the higher attaining graduates. The data coverage, specifically institution type, should also be considered (see methodology ‘Data quality and coverage’).  

For the first time in this publication, we have included a new table which provides more granular breakdowns of subject areas. This table can be found in the ‘Download data and files’ section.


Headline facts and figures - 2018-19

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About this release

Background 

The LEO dataset links information about students, including: 

  • Personal characteristics such as sex, ethnic group and age
  • Education, including schools, colleges and higher education provider attended, courses taken, and qualifications achieved
  • Employment and income
  • Benefits claimed

By combining these sources, we can look at the progress of higher education leavers into the labour market. Further information on the data included in the LEO dataset can be found in the accompanying methodology, which also contains further information on the data quality and match rates. 

This publication looks at those who graduated with a level 7 (masters) or level 8 (doctoral) postgraduate degree from a Higher Education Institution in England. Level 7 results are further split into taught and research study modes where group sizes allow for a meaningful result. 

We also include some comparisons to ‘first degree’ graduates; for more information on what this means please see the methodology definitions section. It must be noted that any difference between first degree and postgraduates cannot solely be attributed to the impact of having a postgraduate degree. This IFS report published in September 2020 shows that first degree graduates who go on to study at postgraduate level are a non-random subset of the first degree population, typically being the higher attaining graduates. Specifically, it shows that more than 40% of individuals who obtained a first-class undergraduate degree go on to further study, compared with less than 30% of those with a 2:1 degree, and less than 20% of those who obtained a 2:2 or below in their undergraduate degree.  

The distribution of subjects studied at postgraduate level and providers of these courses are also important factors to consider. The IFS report shows that science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) graduates have by far the highest propensity to stay on to do a masters or PhD (however, the IFS state in their analysis this is partially driven by the large fraction of these students on integrated masters courses, whereas these students have been removed in this publication because they were included in the Graduate Outcomes (LEO) publication). The IFS report also shows that a third of Russell Group undergraduates go on to obtain a postgraduate qualification, compared to only 15% of those graduating from post-1992 or ‘other’ institutions (see which providers fall into each of these categories in the ‘HEI lookup’ tab in the Excel document available for download here).

Years after graduation (YAG) 

The time periods used in this publication are one, three, five and ten years after graduation, which refers to the first, third, fifth and tenth full tax year after graduation, respectively (or the 2016/17, 2014/15, 2012/13 and 2007/8 academic years of graduation respectively). For instance, for the 2016/17 graduation cohort, the figures one year after graduation refer to employment and earnings outcomes in the 2018/19 tax year. This approach was taken as graduates are unlikely to have been engaged in economic activity for the whole tax year that overlaps with the graduation date. The five years after graduation cohort (2012/13 academic year of graduation) is used primarily to show comparisons between groups at one point in time, however the full range of cohorts is available in the EES table builder. 

Coverage 

Providers covered in this publication are Higher Education Institutions (HEIs). Outcomes of graduates from Alternative Providers (APs) and Further Education Colleges (FECs) are not currently included in this publication. For more detail on this please see ‘HESA Coverage’ in methodology.

Employment outcomes for UK domiciled graduates 

The employment outcomes in this publication are grouped into five categories. These are: activity not captured, no sustained destination, sustained employment only, sustained employment with or without further study, and sustained employment, further study or both. Information on how we categorise these can be found in the ‘Employment outcomes’ section of the methodology. 

There are a number of factors that can influence the employment and earnings outcomes of graduates beyond the subject and provider attended. The outcomes presented in this release are ‘raw’ outcomes, they do not control for differences in the characteristics of students that might influence graduate employment outcomes. This should be borne in mind when making comparisons across subjects. 

For this publication we are using DWP/HMRC data to identify graduates who informed DWP/HMRC that they were not living in the UK for the majority of the tax year and remove them from our analysis. The purpose is to remove incomplete or missing earnings records and help improve the accuracy of the employment outcomes and earnings calculations presented. The percentage of overseas graduates is now included in the employment outcomes tables (further information can be found in the methodology ‘Employment outcomes’ section). 

Employment outcomes for international graduates 

In contrast to the UK domicile section of this release, which looks at matched graduates only, employment and/or further study outcomes for international graduates are calculated as a percentage of all graduates, excluding only those identified by DWP/HMRC as permanently living overseas.  

Median earnings are calculated for graduates classified as being in ‘sustained employment only’ in the UK. Therefore, the results will not be representative of all international graduates, only of those who choose to stay and work in the UK. 

The results presented in this release do not reflect the likelihood of an international graduate being in employment or achieving a certain level of earnings. Instead, they reflect the average outcome when an international graduate has remained in the UK. 

Gender gap calculations in this release 

In this publication, we have changed the calculation of the gender gap in median earning and are now in line with the Office for National Statistics (ONS) – see the 2020 ONS gender pay gap publication here. Previously the gender gap was calculated as the difference between median earnings of men and women as a proportion of women’s earnings. This has now been revised to the difference between median earnings of men and women as a proportion of men’s earnings. Since this is a change from our previous publications, the ‘gender gap’ percentages provided previously are not directly comparable to the ones given in this publication. For further information please refer to the methodology section on earnings differences between sexes. 

Boxplots guidance 

For guidance on how to read boxplots in this release, please see the ‘how to read boxplots’ document available in ‘Download data and files’ at the top of this release.  

UK domiciled postgraduates - Overall figures

Coverage: UK level 7 (taught and research) and level 8 postgraduates from English Higher Education Institutions (HEIs). 

Employment and/or further study outcomes for UK  domiciled postgraduates are calculated as a percentage of those matched to DWP’s Customer Information System (CIS) or a Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) further study record. Further details can be found in the methodology ‘Employment outcomes’ section. 

Employment outcomes 

The percentage of graduates in sustained employment, further study or both five years after graduation was 86.6% for level 7 (taught) graduates and 84.5% for level 7 (research) and level 8 graduates. This compares with 86.7% for first degree graduates, using data from Graduate outcomes (LEO) publication. Level 7 (taught) and level 8 graduates had a higher proportion of graduates in sustained employment only (76.6% and 79.3% respectively) when compared with first degree graduates (76.1%) and corresponds with a lower percentage in further study compared with first degree graduates. Level 7 (research) have a higher proportion than all groups in further study with or without sustained employment at 16.5% of the matched graduate population.  

Figure 1 shows that at one and three years after graduation the proportion of UK postgraduates in further study (with or without sustained employment) was particularly high for level 7 (research) graduates (about 40%). By ten years after graduation this proportion had reduced to 6.2% as the number in sustained employment increased, reflecting the movement of these graduates from further study to employment. 

At all years after graduation, the proportion of level 8 or level 7 (research) graduates whose activity was not captured (i.e. no benefits/employment or study records were found in that tax year) was higher than that of level 7 (taught) graduates. This may reflect the movement of these postgraduates in seeking employment outside of the UK. 

Earnings 

Figure 2 shows that for each year after graduation, level 8 graduates had higher median earnings than level 7 graduates (both taught and research) and level 7 (research) graduates had higher median earnings than level 7 (taught) graduates, except at the one year after graduation point where the medians were equal.  

The gap in earnings between level 8 and level 7 (taught) was £5,800 one year after graduation compared to £8,400 ten years after graduation. Level 7 (research) and level 7 (taught) median earnings were equal one year after graduation, however after which level 7 (research) earnings were higher by £1,800, £1,100 and £3,300 for three, five and ten years after graduation, respectively. 

Figure 2 also shows that for all levels of study, median earnings were higher ten years after graduation compared to one year after graduation, but level 7 (research) graduates had the highest increase in both absolute and percentage terms.  

  • Level 7 (taught) earnings were £27,400 one year after graduation, increasing by £7,300 or 26.6% at ten years after graduation.
  • Level 7 (research) earnings were £27,400 one year after graduation increasing by £10,600 or 38.7% at ten years after graduation.
  • Level 8 earnings were £33,200 one year after graduation increasing by £9,900 or 29.8% at ten years after graduation.

Median earnings for level 7 graduates were higher than first degree graduates at one, three, five and ten years after graduation in the 2018/19 tax year. Five years after graduation median earnings for level 7 (taught) graduates were £32,800 compared to £27,400 for first degree graduates who completed their qualification in the same academic year (the table of first degree graduate earnings can be seen here and uses data from the Graduate Outcomes (LEO) publication).  

UK domiciled postgraduates - Comparison to previous tax years

Coverage: UK level 7 (taught) and level 8 postgraduates from English Higher Education Institutions (HEIs). Level 7 (research) figures are excluded from analysis as graduate numbers are comparatively low but can be viewed using the table tool and in underlying data.  

Employment outcomes 

The percentage of UK domiciled postgraduates in sustained employment, further study or both was relatively stable between 2014/15 and 2018/19 for all qualifications levels at one, three, five and ten years after graduation as seen in table 3. The cohort with the highest percentage point (ppt) reduction of graduates in sustained employment, further study or both was level 7 (research) ten years graduation, which saw a reduction of 2 ppts. Level 8 graduates had the largest increases of 1.8 ppts three years after graduation, 1.5 ppts five years after graduation and 1.2 ppts ten years after graduation. All other cohorts presented had changes of 1 ppt or less between 2014/15 and 2018/19 tax year.  

Earnings 

Earnings in real terms are adjusted for inflation to better reflect what an individual can afford to buy with those earnings. To calculate real earnings, nominal earnings are divided by the inflation rate for that year. 

The adjustment for inflation used the 2014/15 tax year as a base year, hence real earnings in this year are presented as equal to nominal earnings. For 2015/16 to 2018/19 nominal earnings were adjusted using Consumer Price Index (CPIH) inflation rates at the end of each tax year relative to the end of the previous tax year. See https://www.ons.gov.uk/economy/inflationandpriceindices for more information). 

Level 7 (taught) graduate earnings 

As seen in figure 4, nominal earnings have increased overall since the 2014/15 tax year for all years after graduation. The increase from the 2014/15 to the 2018/19 tax year was £2,200 (8.7%) for the one year after graduation cohorts, £2,200 (7.8%) for the three years after graduation cohorts, £1,900 (6.1%) for the five years after graduation cohorts, and £800 (2.4%) for the ten years after graduation cohorts. 

The increase in postgraduate earnings between 2014/15 and 2018/19 tax years was lower than the increase seen for first degree graduates, where earnings increased by £2,600 (14.3%) one year after graduation, £2,200 (11.9%) three years after graduation, £2,200 (8.7%) five years after graduation and £800 (2.6%) ten years after graduation and can be seen in this table using the Graduate Outcomes (LEO) data.  

Whilst average ‘nominal’ (unadjusted) earnings increased between the 2014/15 and 2018/19 tax years, the value of these earnings in terms of the goods and services that they can buy have not increased at the same rate and even decreased for graduates further into their career. Figure 4 shows a real terms increase of £300 for the one year after graduation cohorts (compared with a nominal increase of £2,200) and £100 increase for the three years after graduation cohorts (compared with a nominal increase of £2,200). At five years after graduation there is a £300 decrease (compared with a nominal increase of £1,900) and at ten years after graduation a £1,600 decrease (compared with a nominal increase of £800).  

We can compare this to first degree graduates’ real terms earnings changes between 2014/15 and 2018/19, where there was an increase of £1,200 for the one year after graduation cohorts (compared with nominal increase of £2,600), £900 increase for the three years after graduation cohorts (nominal increase of £2,600), £300 increase for the five years after graduation cohorts (nominal increase of £2,200) and a decrease of £1,300 for the ten years after graduation cohorts (nominal increase of £800). See Graduate outcomes (LEO).  

Level 8 graduate earnings 

We also see a similar pattern to the level 7 (taught) graduates with level 8 earnings over time, as shown in figure 5. There was an increase in graduate earnings between the tax years in nominal terms for all years after graduation. The difference from the 2014/15 to the 2018/19 tax year was £2,500 (8.1%) for the one year after graduation cohorts, £2,200 (6.5%) for the three years after graduation cohorts and £1,500 (4.1% and 3.6%) for the five and ten years after graduation cohorts.   

As with level 7 (taught) graduate earnings, nominal earnings increased, but their value in real terms only increased for the one year after graduation cohort between the 2014/15 and 2018/19 tax years as shown in figure 5. There was a £200 increase for the one year after graduation cohorts (compared with a nominal increase of £2,500), a £300 decrease for the three years after graduation cohorts (compared with a nominal increase of £2,500), a £1,200 decrease for the five years after graduation cohorts (compared with nominal increase of £1,500) and a £1,500 decrease for the ten years after graduation cohorts, (compared with a nominal increase of £1,500).  

UK domiciled postgraduates - Sex

Coverage: UK level 7 (taught and research) and level 8 postgraduates from English Higher Education Institutions (HEIs). 

Employment outcomes 

We have changed the calculation of the gender gap in median earnings in line with Graduate Outcomes (LEO) . For more information on this, please see the methodology section on earnings differences between sexes. 

Figure 6 shows that for each level of study, the proportion of graduates in sustained employment, further study or both five years after graduation was higher for females than for males. This corresponds with a higher proportion of males whose activity was not captured for each level of study. 

Earnings 

Table 7 shows that regardless of the level of study, males had higher median earnings than females five years after graduation. For example, table 7 shows that in the 2018/19 tax year female level 8 median earnings were 5.9% lower than male level 7 (taught) earnings (£35,000 and £37,200 respectively).

When looking within levels, the gap between male and female earnings was smallest for level 7 (research) graduates at 10.0%, and was largest for level 7 (taught) graduates at 16.7%. Female level 8 graduates’ average earnings were 13.6% less than their male counterparts.  Both level 7 (taught) and level 8 graduates had a larger gender gap in median earnings than that seen for first degree graduates five years after graduation (13.4%) in the latest tax year (see Graduate Outcomes (LEO)).  

When comparing across tax years as seen in figure 8, males continued to earn more than female postgraduates, regardless of level of study. For level 7 (taught) graduates, male median earnings increased by £2,500 (7.2%) between the 2014/15 and 2018/19 tax years, and female earnings increased by £2,200 (7.6%). For level 8 graduates, male earnings were £1,800 more on average in 2018/19 than in 2014/15 (an increase of 4.7%), whilst female earnings were £1,400 more than they were in 2014/15 (an increase of 4.2%). For level 8 female graduates their median earnings in 2017/18 were the same as 2014/15, meaning that the £1,400 increase seen since 2014/15 actually occurred between the 2017/18 and 2018/19 tax years. 

For the small number of level 7 (research) graduates (see the table accompanying figure 8), male graduates earned £1,800 more in 2018/19 than they did in 2014/15 (an increase of 5.2%), while female graduates saw a larger increase between the tax years of £2,200 (an increase of 7.3%), despite females still earning less in every tax year. 

UK domiciled postgraduates - Subject studied

Coverage: UK level 7 (taught and research) postgraduates from English Higher Education Institutions (HEIs). 

We have included a new tableproviding more granular breakdowns of subject areas (JACS 4-digit codes - see methodology definitions section on ‘subject areas’). This covers all subject areas. However, a number of subjects will not have employment or earnings outcomes available due to the suppression rules applied.  

The results are not shown or discussed here in the interest of conciseness. The outputs are available to download in the “Download associated files” section (JACS postgraduate table 2018/19) at the top of this page.  

Due to the small numbers taking level 7 (research) degrees, these subject level breakdowns are not shown separately. Instead, outcomes and earnings for all level 7 courses (i.e. level 7 (taught) and level 7 (research) are combined for each subject). In addition, Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) and Master of Business Administration (MBA) graduates have been separated out rather than including them in the relevant subject breakdowns. 

Employment outcomes and earnings data on level 8 graduates can be found in the Excel tables document found in ‘Download data and files’ at the top of this release. 

Employment outcomes 

Figure 9 shows that postgraduates with a PGCE had the highest level of sustained employment only (83.3%). Excluding Celtic Studies (where the graduate numbers are very small), Philosophy and religious studies graduates had the lowest level of sustained employment only (63.9%).  

Graduates with an MBA (4.1%), Architecture (5.2%) or Business and management (5.3%) had the lowest proportion of graduates in further study, while graduates in Psychology (21.3%), Combined and general studies (21.1%) and Physics and astronomy (20.1%) had the highest proportion of graduates in further study. 

Languages and area studies graduates had the highest proportion classified as activity not captured (17.1%). This is not surprising as, given the nature of their degrees, it is more likely that these graduates would seek employment overseas. Graduates in Nursing and midwifery (4.3%), Health and social care (5.0%) and PGCE (6.3%) had the lowest levels of activity not captured.  

Overall, females were more likely than males to be in sustained employment, further study or both (as is seen in the ’UK domiciled postgraduates - Sex’ section in figure 6) and comparing between females and males by subject in figure 10, 24 subjects had a higher proportion of female graduates in sustained employment, further study or both and 13 subjects had a higher proportion of male graduates in sustained employment, further study or both. The higher overall percentage for females is also seen because a much higher proportion of females study the subjects with the best employment outcomes (e.g. PGCE) as can be seen in table 10.  

The difference in the proportion of female and male graduates in sustained employment, further study or both varied by subject. The smallest differences were seen for PGCE and Education and teaching (where the proportion of females were 0.1% and 0.2% higher than the proportion of males respectively). Excluding Celtic studies due to small cohort sizes, the subject with the largest difference where females had the higher proportion was English (4.9%), and the subject with largest difference where males had the higher proportion was Chemistry (9.3%).   

Earnings 

Figure 11 shows subjects ordered by level 7 median earnings, and shows that median earnings were highest for those with an MBA (£62,000) and lowest for those who studied Performing arts and Creative arts and design (£22,600). Large variability in interquartile (difference between lower and upper quartile) earnings can be seen from subject to subject, for example graduates with an MBA had an interquartile range of £59,200, compared with £11,700 for PGCE graduates and £12,800 for Chemistry graduates.  

Comparing between females and males, males had higher median earnings in every subject. The difference between female and male earnings varied heavily between subjects. The smallest difference between female and male median earnings was £1,100. This was seen for “Biosciences”, “General and applied forensic sciences”, “English studies” and “Media, journalism, and communications”. Biosciences had the smallest gender gap in percentage terms, with females earning 3.5% less than males. The largest difference in absolute and percentage terms was for Medicine and Dentistry, in which females had earnings on average £21,900 lower than males, or 36.1% less (for more information, see the review into gender pay gaps in Medicine in England commissioned by the Department of Health and Social Care in 2017, linked here). This was closely followed by MBA, with a difference of £19,400 or 28%. To view a table of the gender gap percentages shown on this chart, see this table, and for information on how the gender gap is calculated please see the methodology section on earnings differences between sexes. 

Median earnings for level 7 graduates are substantially higher than first degree graduates in some subjects. For example, first degree Business and management graduates had median earnings of £28,800 five years after graduation (as can be seen in this table which uses data from the Graduate Outcomes (LEO) publication) compared with £41,200 for those who completed a level 7 qualification in the same academic year, as can be seen in table 11 above.

Despite earnings for level 7 graduates being higher in most subject areas, there are subjects where the first degree graduates had higher earnings. For example, Medicine and dentistry first degree graduates had median earnings of £49,300 five years after graduation compared with £43,400 for those who completed a level 7 qualification in the same academic year.  

UK domiciled postgraduates - Current region

Coverage: UK level 7 (taught and research) postgraduates from English Higher Education Institutions (HEIs). 

Due to the small numbers taking level 7 (research) degrees, these regional level breakdowns are not shown separately. Instead, outcomes and earnings for all level 7 graduates (i.e. level 7 (taught) and level 7 (research)) are combined for each subject.  

Employment outcomes and earnings data by current region for level 8 graduates can be found in the Excel tables document found in ‘Download data and files’ at the top of this release. 

Earnings 

As shown in Figure 12 and its accompanying table (data for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland is available in the accompanying table), level 7 graduates from English providers currently living in Scotland had the highest median earnings one year after graduation. London had the highest median earnings for three, five and ten years after graduation.  Northern Ireland saw the largest percentage increase in median earnings between one and ten years after graduation (£11,000, 50.2%), and of the English regions London saw the highest percentage increase (£11,700, 38.6%). 

Median earnings of graduates currently living in Northern Ireland were the lowest one, three and five years after graduation. Of the English regions, the North West and East Midlands were joint lowest one year after graduation, North West was lowest three years after graduation, and Yorkshire and the Humber was lowest five years after graduation. The South West had the lowest median earnings ten years after graduation. 

Scotland had the lowest increase in median earnings in absolute and percentage terms between one and ten years after graduation (£4,000, 13.0%), and of the English regions was the East of England (£6,600, 23.5%).  

Comparing between females and males five years after graduation in figure 13, males had higher median earnings in all regions. The difference between female and male earnings varied between regions. The smallest difference in both absolute and percentage terms between female and male median earnings was seen in Yorkshire and the Humber (£3,300,10.2%) and the largest difference amongst English regions in percentage terms was in the South West (£7,300, 20.6%) and in absolute terms was the South East (£7,700, 19.9%). 

Figure 14 shows that, of the English regions, the largest increase in median earnings five years after graduation between the 2014/15 and 2018/19 tax years in both absolute and percentage terms was seen in London (£3,300, 9.5%). Earnings in Yorkshire and the Humber showed the smallest absolute and percentage increase (£1,100, 3.8%). 

To illustrate how regional differences vary by subject studied, figure 15 plots median earnings for the English region with the highest median earnings (London) against that with the lowest (Yorkshire and the Humber). Data for all other regions are available in the accompanying Excel tables in ‘Download data and files’ at the top of this release. 

Figure 15 shows that except for Medicine and dentistry, earnings were higher for graduates of all subjects in London. The subjects that had the largest differences were for MBA (£25,100), Economics (£18,300), Medicine and Dentistry (£16,400) and Law (£16,100) graduates. Median earnings for Medicine and dentistry graduates were £16,400 lower in London than in Yorkshire and the Humber, and Medical Sciences saw the smallest difference of £700. 

Medicine and dentistry (level 7) graduates currently living in Yorkshire and the Humber had higher median earnings than those currently in London, which in part may be due to the distribution of the sexes in these regions. 87% of level 7 Medicine and dentistry graduates currently living in London were female, compared with 55% in Yorkshire and the Humber. Male level 7 Medicine and dentistry graduates currently in Yorkshire and the Humber also had the highest median earnings of all medicine and dentistry graduates when split by region and gender in the most recent tax year. This could reflect ‘supply and demand’ – London has four times the number of Medicine and dentistry graduates than Yorkshire and the Humber (580 and 145 respectively), resulting in a higher demand in Yorkshire and the Humber and a knock on impact on salaries. 

For both first degree graduates and postgraduates, groups of graduates, those living in London have the highest median earnings five years after graduation (£38,000 for level 7 compared to £32,100 for first degree graduates, as seen in this table using data from the Graduate Outcomes (LEO) publication). The difference in median earnings between London and the region in England with the lowest earnings for level 7 graduates (Yorkshire and the Humber) five years after graduation was £7,700, so London earnings were 20.3% higher than earnings in Yorkshire and the Humber. This is again similar to the difference in median earnings for first degree graduates. For first degree graduates the difference between London and Yorkshire and the Humber (the English region with the lowest first-degree earnings) was £7,600, so London earnings were 23.7% higher, as seen in this table, which uses data from the Graduate Outcomes (LEO) publication.  

The regional distribution of postgraduates five years after graduation was similar to that of first degree graduates, which may suggest that difference we see in earnings between first degree graduates and postgraduates is not driven by regional differences. Five years after graduation, almost one quarter of level 7 graduates and first degree graduates lived in London (22.6% and 23.7% respectively).The English region with the lowest proportion of graduates was the North East (4.0% of level 7 compared to 4.1% of first degree).The data for first degree graduates can be seen in this table using data from the Graduate Outcomes (LEO) publication. 

International postgraduates - Overall figures

Coverage: International level 7 (taught and research) and level 8 postgraduates from English Higher Education Institutions (HEIs). 

In contrast to the UK domicile section of this release, which looks at matched postgraduates only, employment and/or further study outcomes for international postgraduates are calculated as a percentage of all postgraduates, excluding only those identified by DWP/HMRC as permanently living overseas. This removes postgraduates we have evidence are overseas, to improve the accuracy of outcomes calculations.

As in other LEO releases, there is comparatively poor LEO coverage for international domiciled postgraduates compared to UK domiciled postgraduates. This is because LEO relies on postgraduates having been issued with a National Insurance number to match them to an employment record. However, international students who have no intention of working or claiming benefits in the UK are less likely to apply for a National Insurance number and so would not appear in the LEO data. For a more detailed explanation of this, see the methodology ‘Data and coverage' section. 

It is important to emphasise that the results presented in this release do not reflect the likelihood of an international postgraduate being in employment or achieving a certain level of earnings. Instead, they reflect the average outcome when an international postgraduate has remained in the UK.  

Employment Outcomes 

Figure 16 shows that the proportion of EU and non-EU postgraduates in further study (with or without sustained employment) is comparatively high for level 7 (research) graduates one, three and five years after graduation. This proportion falls by ten years after graduation as the number of unmatched graduates increases, suggesting level 7 graduates moving out of the UK after further study. 

Overall, non-EU domiciled graduates were less likely to be in sustained employment and/or further study in the UK than EU domiciled graduates. However, when looking at those who graduated with a level 7 (taught) qualification ten years after graduation, nearly the same proportion of EU (19.8%) and non-EU (19.1%) domiciled graduates were still working and/or studying in the UK. 

For EU domiciled graduates, those who completed a level 8 qualification were more likely to be in sustained employment and/or further study in the UK after graduation compared to those who completed a level 7 (taught) qualification. For example, 48.0% of level 8 graduates were in sustained employment and/or further study one year after graduation compared to 35.3% of level 7 (taught) graduates. This pattern is also true for non-EU graduates where 31.4% of level 8 graduates were in sustained employment and/or further study one year after graduation compared to 13.5% of level 7 (taught) graduates. 

Earnings  

Earnings outcomes for level 7 (taught) graduates have been presented in figure 17, with earnings data for level 7 (research) and level 8 graduates available in the tables accompanying this release, or by using the table tool. UK domiciled graduates have also been included in the charts for comparison with international graduates.  

EU domiciled level 7 (taught) graduates had higher median earnings than non-EU and UK domiciled graduates at three, five and ten years after graduation in the 2018/19 tax year, as shown in figure 17. At five years after graduation EU domiciled level 7 (taught) median earnings were £35,800, compared with £33,300 for non-EU domiciled and £32,800 for UK domiciled graduates. Only at one year after graduation did non-EU domiciled graduates have higher median earnings (£28,500).  

Figure 17 also shows median earnings increased between one and ten years after graduation; UK, and non-EU domiciled postgraduates had similar differences in median earnings between one and ten years after graduation and EU domiciled graduates a greater increase in the 2018/19 tax year.  

  • UK domiciled level 7 (taught) graduate earnings were £27,400 one year after graduation and increased by £7,300 (26.6%) at ten years after graduation.
  • EU domiciled level 7 (taught) graduate earnings were £28,100 one year after graduation and increased by £13,500 (48.0%) at ten years after graduation.
  • Non-EU domiciled level 7 (taught) graduate earnings were £28,500 one year after graduation and increased by £7,300 (25.6%) at ten years after graduation.

Looking at the interquartile range (difference between lower and upper quartile) of earnings for level 7 (taught) graduates we see variation between domiciles and cohorts in the 2018/19 tax year. Non-EU graduates had the highest range in earnings one, three and five years after graduation (£20,100, £26,000 and £29,500) compared with UK graduates (£16,800, £18,200, £20,800) and EU graduates (£14,900, £22,600, £24,800). At ten years after graduation the range in EU graduate earnings is highest at £44,800 compared with £36,500 for non-EU graduates and £27,400 for UK.  

Median earnings of level 7 (taught) EU domiciled graduates five years after graduation were £4,800 (15.5%) higher than EU domiciled first degree graduates. For non-EU domiciled level 7, median earnings were £500 (1.5%) higher than non-EU first degree graduates. First degree earnings for EU and non-EU graduates for 2018/19 tax year are published in this table using data from the Graduate outcomes (LEO) publication.  

International postgraduates - Comparison to previous tax years

Coverage: International level 7 (taught) and level 8 postgraduates from English Higher Education Institutions (HEIs). Level 7 (research) figures are excluded from analysis as graduate numbers are comparatively low but can be viewed using the table tool and in underlying data.  

Employment Outcomes 

Table 18 shows that when comparing the percentage of EU domiciled level 7 (taught) graduates in sustained employment and/or further study between the 2014/15 and 2018/19 tax years, all cohorts (one, three, five and ten years after graduation) saw an increase; the increase was 1.0 percentage point (ppt) one year after graduation, 4.6 ppts three and ten years after graduation and 5.1 ppts five years after graduation. For non-EU domiciled graduates, there was a decrease one, three and five years after graduation; with the largest reduction 8.2 ppts five years after graduation. For the ten years after graduation cohorts, this proportion increased by 4.6 ppts. 

Table 19 shows the percentage of EU domiciled level 8 graduates in sustained employment and/or further study between the 2014/15 and 2018/19 tax years increased for the one, three and ten year after graduation cohorts. On the other hand, for the five years after graduation cohort there was a 0.9 percentage point (ppt) reduction.  

Similarly for non-EU domiciled graduates, increases in the proportion of graduates in sustained employment and/or further study across 2014/15 and 2018/19 tax years were seen for one, three and ten years after graduation cohorts, whilst for five years after graduation, the proportion decreased by 2.4 ppts.  

Earnings  

Figure 20 shows non-EU domiciled level 7 (taught) graduates had the largest increase in median earnings five years after graduation between 2014/15 and 2018/19 tax years, compared with UK and EU domiciled graduates. It also shows that this group consistently had the lowest median earnings until the 2018/19 tax year, when they overtook UK domiciled graduates. Non-EU domiciled graduate median earnings increased by £4,500 (15.6%) while UK domiciled graduate median earnings increased by £1,900 (6.1%) and EU domiciled by £3,700 (11.5%). This increase in median earnings was higher when compared with EU and non-EU domiciled first degree graduates, five years after graduation between 2014/15 and 2018/19 which were £2,200 (7.6%) for EU domiciled graduates and £4,300 (15.1%) for non-EU graduates.  

Figure 20 (table) shows that between the 2014/15 and 2018/19 tax years, non-EU domiciled graduates in the three year after graduation cohort saw the largest increase in median earnings of all level 7 (taught) graduating cohorts. This group saw an increase of £5,500 (20.9%) across the five tax years. The increase at one year after graduation was similarly high; £4,800 (20.3%) for non-EU domiciled graduates.  

International postgraduates - Domicile and sex

Coverage: International level 7 (taught and research) and level 8 postgraduates from English Higher Education Institutions (HEIs).

Employment outcomes 

Table 21 shows for EU domiciled graduates five years after graduation, females were more likely to be in sustained employment, further study or both than males for all postgraduate qualification levels, as was the case for UK domiciled graduates. The same is true for level 7 (research) non-EU domiciled graduates. However, for non-EU domiciled level 7 (taught) graduates and level 8 graduates males were more likely to be in sustained employment, further study or both than females, five years after graduation. 

Earnings

Figure 22 shows that for EU and non-EU domiciled graduates, males had higher median earnings than females five years after graduation at each postgraduate level. The difference was largest for EU domiciled level 7 (taught) graduates, where female median earnings were 21.9% lower than male earnings, and for non-EU domiciled level 7 (taught) graduates where female earnings were 17.0% lower. The difference was smallest for non-EU domiciled level 7 (research) graduates where female earnings were 9.6% lower than male earnings.

International postgraduates - Domicile and current region

Coverage: International level 7 (taught and research) postgraduates from English Higher Education Institutions (HEIs).

Level 7 combined outcomes are presented in this section, and data for level 8 graduates can be found in the tables accompanying this release, or by using the table builder.

Matched graduate numbers

Figure 23 shows the regional distribution of EU and non-EU domiciled level 7 graduates that stayed in the UK is very different to that of UK domiciled graduates (data for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland is available in the accompanying table. To number and proportion of matched graduates in each region is shown in this table. )

Of the level 7 graduates living in the UK five years after graduation 56.4% of EU domiciled graduates lived in London, compared to 34.7% of non-EU domiciled graduates. These proportions are much higher than the UK domiciled graduates where, of those living in the UK, 23.6% lived in London five years after graduation.

The second most popular region for level 7 graduates from all three domiciles was the South East of England, with 11.1% of EU domiciled graduates, 11.2% for non-EU domiciled, and 15.0% for UK domiciled graduates. 

In the UK as a whole, Wales had the lowest proportion of EU domiciled graduates (0.6%), and for non-EU and UK domiciled graduates it was Northern Ireland (0.2% and 0.6% respectively), though it should be considered this publication covers graduates of English HEIs only. 

The English region with the lowest proportion of EU domiciled level 7 graduates was the North East of England, with 1.7% (compared to 5.2% for non-EU and 4.0% for UK domiciled graduates). The lowest proportion of non-EU domiciled graduates in English regions were residing in the South West (4.3%) with a similar percentage of EU graduates (4.2%) and 8.6% of UK domiciled graduates.

Non-EU level 7 graduates were generally more evenly distributed around England than EU graduates. 

Earnings

Figure 24 shows that median for earnings for EU and non-EU postgraduates five years after graduation shows variation at a regional level (data for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland is available in the accompanying table). At a national level, EU (£35,800) and non-EU (£33,300) median earnings for level 7 (taught) are higher than UK (£32,800) five years after graduation. At a regional level, UK domiciled level 7 graduate median earnings are higher than EU and non-EU domiciled graduates in all English regions except London and South West, where EU graduates have the highest median earnings. For example, UK domiciled level 7 graduates in the North East five years after graduation had median earnings of £31,400, compared with £29,000 for EU domiciled graduates and £25,600 for non-EU domiciled graduates.

International postgraduates - Country

Coverage: International level 7 (taught and research) postgraduates from English Higher Education Institutions (HEIs).

This section focuses on the employment and/or further study outcomes of international level 7 graduates five years after graduation for the 2018/19 tax year, concentrating specifically on the twenty countries with the largest international graduate populations.

The top twenty countries by graduate population were initially identified from the 2018/19 tax year, one year after graduation. These countries were then used for subsequent analysis to allow for comparison between the remaining tax and academic years. This country level analysis was only performed on level 7 graduates. 

Employment Outcomes 

Figure 25 shows that the proportion of graduates in sustained employment, further study or both varied considerably between both EU and non-EU countries five years after graduation. Of the EU countries, Ireland and Italy had the highest proportion in sustained employment, further study or both (40.6%) and Germany had the lowest proportion (19.8%). Of the non-EU countries, Pakistan had the highest proportion in sustained employment, further study or both (22.1%) and Thailand had the lowest proportion (3.2%).

Earnings

Figure 26 (arranged from low to high median earnings by country) shows that for the EU countries, there was only a small amount of variability in median earnings for level 7 graduates five years after graduation. Greece had the highest median earnings (£38,000) and Spain had the lowest median earnings (£33,600). For the non-EU countries, there was a larger variability in earnings with Hong Kong having the highest median earnings (£40,500) and Vietnam having the lowest median earnings (£19,000). 

There was also variability in the interquartile range (difference between lower and upper quartile) of earnings between countries. Spain had the smallest interquartile range (£16,800) while Thailand had the largest interquartile range (£44,500). 

Figure 26 also shows that there are large gender gaps in median earnings within countries. Of the EU countries the largest gender gap in earnings was for Germany where female level 7 graduate median earnings were £11,700 (26.1%) lower than male earnings. For non-EU countries female level 7 graduate median earnings for Saudi Arabia were £10,900 (30.8%) lower than male earnings (though the small cohort size should be considered when making this comparison – see table 26).

Find my data and feedback

This section provides guidance on finding data and providing feedback.

Find my data 

To find information on topics of interest, expand the content sections for UK domiciled graduates or International graduates. In each section there will be tables/charts and summary commentary on the relevant area. In some sections there may also be links to pre-prepared summary tables or additional useful documents like the methodology or Excel tables documents. 

You can also create your own tables through the table tool or modify the pre-prepared tables which use this release’s underlying data. 

At the top of the release, there is a ‘download data and files’ section which includes:

  • All underlying data files used in this release
  • Additional Excel tables documents
  • ‘How to read boxplots’ document.

Feedback

This release uses a new approach to publishing our data and statistics which we are looking to evolve overtime. 

As a result, your feedback is important to help us improve and develop (please use the link at the top of this release to provide feedback on this platform). 

If you would like to get in touch with any queries related to this release or the LEO data, you can contact us on the below address. 

EMAIL: HE.LEO@education.gov.uk 

Official statistics

These are official statistics and have been produced in line with the Code of Practice for Statistics. 

This can be broadly interpreted to mean that the statistics; 

  • meet identified user needs;
  • are well explained and readily accessible; 
  • are produced according to sound methods, and 
  • are managed impartially and objectively in the public interest; 

The department has a set of statistical policies in line with the Code of Practice for Official statistics. 

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Methodology

Find out how and why we collect, process and publish these statistics

Official statistics

These are Official Statistics and have been produced in line with the Code of Practice for Official Statistics.

This can be broadly interpreted to mean that these statistics are:

  • managed impartially and objectively in the public interest
  • meet identified user needs
  • produced according to sound methods
  • well explained and readily accessible

Find out more about the standards we follow to produce these statistics through our Standards for official statistics published by DfE guidance.

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If you have a specific enquiry about Graduate outcomes (LEO): postgraduate outcomes statistics and data:

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