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.
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.
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.