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LEO Graduate outcomes provider level data
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LEO Graduate Outcomes provider level data: Employment and earnings outcomes of higher education first degree graduates by provider, subject studied and graduate characteristics.
This release updates previously published figures with the latest available data (2020/21 tax year). These are official statistics. For more information on what this means, please see the ‘Official statistics’ section at the end of this publication.
The 2020/21 tax year overlapped with the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, with official lockdowns being in effect during the 2020/21 tax year between 6th April 2020 and 4th July 2020, between 5th November 2020 and 1st December 2020 and again between 6th January 2021 and 8th March 2021. In addition, there were several local restrictions in place during autumn 2020. The Government Coronavirus employment schemes, Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) and Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS), covered this period of the 2020/21 tax year. The lockdowns and restrictions negatively impacted earnings and employment outcomes for some graduates in 2020/21. Data on the government’s Coronavirus employment schemes (relating to graduates) are available for context, see LEO Graduate and Postgraduate Outcomes: 2020 to 2021.
This publication provides information on outcomes one, three and five years after graduation for UK domiciled first degree graduates. Prior attainment data is unavailable for the ten years after graduation cohorts, so they are not included in the data. Data for HEIs in Great Britain are discussed below, focussing on the five years after graduation cohort. However, full data for Higher Education Providers (Higher Education Institutes (HEIs), Further Education Colleges (FECs) and Alternative Providers (APs)) are available in the accompanying Excel tables under the ‘Additional supporting files’ section above.
It should be noted that the analysis presented here does not control for differences in the characteristics of graduates, a very important caveat when comparing graduate salaries across providers. For research on how graduate characteristics impact earnings and outcomes, see the report by the Institute for Fiscal Studies, The returns to undergraduate degrees by socio-economic group and ethnicity | Institute for Fiscal Studies (ifs.org.uk).
In figures 1, 2, 4 and 8, we present the distributions of provider median graduate earnings by subject/region. Provider median graduate earnings (henceforth referred to as the ‘provider median’) is the median earnings across the graduates who studied at that provider (see about this release section). These are not to be confused with the distributions of graduates of a given subject/region (as seen in LEO Graduate and Postgraduate Outcomes: 2020 to 2021).
Data on full cycle (home, study and current regions) graduate movement is included which shows graduate movement throughout the full cycle of study – before entering higher education (home region), during study (study region), and after completing their course (current region). Data for each provider is available in the ‘Full cycle movement data 2020/21’ file under the ‘Additional supporting files’ section below.
We have also included a provider level table presenting more granular breakdowns of subject areas using the Joint Academic Coding System (JACS) subject classification. This table and data can be found in the ‘JACS subject data 2020/21’ file under the ‘Additional supporting files’ section below.
This publication does not compare graduate employment outcomes to non-graduate outcomes, for this comparison see the Graduate Labour Market Statistics publication (Graduate labour market statistics, Calendar year 2022 – Explore education statistics – GOV.UK (explore-education-statistics.service.gov.uk) ) which compares the earnings of graduates of working age with individuals who are working age but did not participate in higher education. For lifetime labour market returns see The impact of undergraduate degrees on lifetime earnings: research report. The Higher Education Statistics Agency (JISC) also publishes employment and earnings data from the Graduate Outcomes survey.
Headline facts and figures - 2020-21
Graduates’ earnings in some subjects have more variation across providers than other subjects. Five years after graduation in the 2020/21 tax year, Computing, Law and Business and Management had the biggest variations in median earnings between providers (£23,400 to £85,400, £20,400 to £82,300 and £19,700 to £67,900 respectively). Excluding Celtic studies, the smallest variation was seen for Medicine and dentistry (£46,700 to £55,800).
Provider variation is similar across most subjects for graduate employment outcomes. Five years after graduation in the 2020/21 tax year and excluding Celtic studies, Medicine and dentistry and Nursing and midwifery had the smallest variations in the percentage of UK domiciled graduates in sustained employment, further study or both across providers (86.8% to 97.7% and 83.6% to 98.1% respectively). The biggest variation is seen for Media, journalism and communications (50.9% to 100%).
Providers in the North East are most affected by their graduates typically working in regions with lower typical salaries. Earnings are known to be impacted by the region of residence of the graduate so regionally adjusted figures are provided (theoretical earnings based on average graduate regional moves). The effect this had on provider median earnings varied depending on the region of the provider.
The region where providers are most impacted by the regional destination of their graduates is the North East where four out of five providers had regionally adjusted earnings that were more than 5% different to raw earnings (three providers had higher adjusted earnings and one provider had lower adjusted earnings). In London, 65.5% of 29 providers had adjusted earnings that were more than 5% different to raw earnings with most of these having adjusted earnings at least 5% lower than raw earnings.
Most providers and subjects have seen their graduates’ earnings increase at or above the rate of inflation since 2014/15. Between the 2014/15 and 2020/21 tax years, 73.9% of providers and subjects saw an increase of over 10% in their graduates’ median earnings. A 10% increase is similar to the rate of inflation (10.1%) between these tax years based on the consumer price inflation that includes owner occupiers' housing costs (CPIH).
Graduates’ earnings in some subjects are more strongly associated with their prior attainment than other subjects. Five years after graduation in the 2020/21 tax year, the average prior attainment of a provider’s graduates had a varying association with median earnings depending on the subject. Prior attainment bands are created using UCAS points for each graduate’s top three A level grades, and then placed in band 1 (top 25%), band 2 (middle 50%) or band 3 (bottom 25%). For Nursing and midwifery, there was little variation in median earnings across prior attainment bands with median earnings in the top band only £400 more than median earnings in the bottom band. For Computing, the top prior attainment band had higher median earnings than the lowest prior attainment band by £20,200.
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Additional supporting files
About this release
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.
Years after graduation (YAG)
The time periods used in this publication are one, three and five years after graduation, which refers to the first, third and fifth full tax year after graduation, respectively (or the 2018/19, 2016/17 and 2014/15 academic years of graduation). Prior attainment data is unavailable for the ten years after graduation cohorts, so they are not included in the data. For instance, for the 2018/19 graduation cohort, the figures one year after graduation refer to employment and earnings outcomes in the 2020/21 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 (2014/15 academic year of graduation) has been used in breakdowns to show comparisons between groups at one point in time, however the full range of cohorts is available in the downloadable data.
This publication looks at those who graduated with a first degree qualification from Higher Education Providers (Higher Education Institutes (HEIs), Further Education Colleges (FECs) and Alternative Providers (APs)) in Great Britain and are UK domiciled. Only data for HEIs is shown in the main text of this publication (as HEIs have larger cohorts than FECs or APs) but data for all higher education providers are available in the accompanying Excel tables under the ‘Additional supporting files’ section above.
Employment outcomes for UK domiciled graduates
The employment outcomes in this publication are grouped into five categories. These are:
- Activity not captured - graduates who have been successfully matched to DWP’s Customer Information System but do not have any employment, out-of-work benefits or further study records in the tax year of interest.
- No sustained destination - graduates who have an employment or out-of-work benefits record in the tax year of interest but were not classified as being in ‘sustained employment’ and do not have a further study record.
- Sustained employment, further study or both - graduates with a record of sustained employment or further study. This category includes all graduates in the ‘sustained employment with or without further study’ category as well as those with a further study record only.
Of which there are subset groups:
- Sustained employment only - graduates who have a record of sustained employment but no record of further study.
- Sustained employment with or without further study - graduates with a record of sustained employment, regardless of whether they also have a record of further study or not.
Tables in this publication also show the figures for ‘further study with or without sustained employment’, which is all graduates with a further study record regardless of whether they have a record of sustained employment or not. These figures are equivalent to the difference between the ‘sustained employment, further study or both’ and ‘sustained employment only’ categories.
For this publication we are using Department for Work and Pensions/His Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (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 included in the employment outcomes tables (more information can be found in the methodology document).
For guidance on how to read boxplots in this release, please see the ‘how to read boxplots’ document available under the ‘Additional supporting files’ section above.
This is defined as the median earnings across the graduates who studied at the provider. This median is obtained by ranking all graduates annualised earnings (for graduates who are in sustained employment record in the tax year) and taking the value at which half of graduates fall below and half above. The median, rather than the mean, is used as the measure of average earnings outcomes. Median is the preferred measure as it is less affected by the skewed distribution of earnings and the relatively small numbers of very high earners, therefore giving a better indication of typical earnings than the mean does.
Contextual information for providers
It should be noted that the data presented here do not control for differences in the characteristics of graduates, such as ethnicity or socio-economic background. This is a very important caveat when comparing graduate salaries across providers. For this reason, information on prior attainment and the Participation of Local Areas (POLAR) classification is provided for each provider to add context. The type of work/industry of employment and hours worked will also influence graduate employment outcomes, in particular earnings. It should also be noted that higher education will have a range of personal and societal benefits that extend beyond earnings, which by their nature are not captured in the statistics presented here. This should be borne in mind when making comparisons across subjects.
Employment outcomes across providers and subjects
Figure 1 shows the distribution of providers’ proportion of graduates in sustained employment, further study or both five years after graduation. These distributions have been obtained from the employment outcomes at the providers offering a given subject. Languages and area studies and Creative arts and design had the lowest median proportions of graduates in sustained employment, further study or both while Nursing and midwifery and Medicine and dentistry had the highest median proportions.
While median proportions were mostly between 80.2% and 92.4% across subjects, there was significant variation within some subjects. For example, Media, journalism and communications had the largest difference between the highest (100%) and lowest (50.9%) proportion (a difference of 49.1 percentage points).
Figure 1 also shows that considering the combination of both subject and provider is important when looking at graduate employment outcomes. This can be seen in the number of subjects who have upper limits of 100% despite their varying medians.
Earnings outcomes across providers and subjects
In figure 2, we present the distribution of median earnings of each provider for each subject five years after graduation. These distributions have been obtained from the median earnings at the providers offering a given subject, so the number of providers included for each subject differs.
Figure 2 shows that the range of graduate median earnings across providers varied significantly depending on the subject. For example, all providers offering Medicine and dentistry had median graduate earnings five years after graduation of between £46,700 and £55,800 (a difference of only £9,100). By contrast, the median earnings for providers offering Computing showed wider variation, ranging from £23,400 to £85,400 (a difference of £62,000). Law also had a similar range, £20,400 to £82,300 (a difference of £61,900). This indicates that for some subjects, the variation between providers is much smaller and could be more likely to be impacted by the labour market available to them (some sectors have standardised salaries, for example, the National Health Service which will reduce the earnings variation across providers).
Figure 2 shows that considering the combination of both subject and provider is important when looking at graduate earnings, as the provider medians for some subjects are very different to the overall graduate median for that subject. At provider level, Medicine and dentistry had the highest median earnings. This is consistent with the graduate and postgraduate outcomes publication (see LEO Graduate and Postgraduate Outcomes: 2020 to 2021 publication). The next 11 subjects with the highest median salaries are also consistent with the graduate and postgraduate outcomes publication. There are some subjects where graduate median earnings at some providers are very high (for example Law and Computing).
Median earnings and prior attainment by provider
Figure 3 shows the distribution of providers by prior attainment band for each subject for the five years after graduation cohort and is ordered by the proportion of providers in prior attainment band 1.
Providers are ranked by their median graduate prior attainment score (calculated using UCAS points for each graduate’s top three A level grades), and then placed in band 1 (top 25%), band 2 (middle 50%) or band 3 (bottom 25%). Note that this approach to creating the prior attainment bands is different to the Widening Participation publication (see the methodology document for full details).
Some providers have not been placed in a band. This includes all Scottish and Welsh providers (as prior attainment data is based on an English data source) as well as any provider where prior attainment information is based on a small number of students. For more information on this, please see the methodology document. These providers are not included in the calculations in figures 3 and 4.
Figure 3 shows that there was significant variation in the prior attainment of graduates attending each provider to study each subject. The number of providers in each band is available to view in the accompanying table. The subject with the highest proportion of providers in prior attainment band 1 was Medicine and dentistry, with an exceptionally high proportion of 100% of the 25 included providers falling into prior attainment band 1 for this subject. This will be due to high entry requirements for this subject for most providers. The second highest proportion of providers in prior attainment band 1 was seen for Veterinary sciences, at 55.6% of the nine included providers.
Figure 4 shows the association of prior attainment with median earnings for selected subjects. These subjects were selected to display the variation in effect that prior attainment has on earnings. Data for other subjects are available in the ‘Provider main tables 2020/21’ file under the ‘Additional supporting files’ section above.
For Nursing and midwifery, the median graduate earnings across providers show little variation between bands 1 and 3 with slightly more variation for band 2, implying that prior attainment is not strongly associated with median earnings for this subject. This is likely due to the career paths taken by Nursing and midwifery graduates regardless of provider. The association of prior attainment with median earnings is similarly low for Creative arts and design. For Education and teaching and Engineering, there is a moderate association of prior attainment with median earnings.
However, for Computing, a different pattern emerges where providers with a higher attainment band had noticeably higher median graduate earnings and a wider range of earnings. For Computing, comparing median earnings for prior attainment band 1 with prior attainment bands 2 and 3 gave a difference in earnings of £16,900 and £20,200 respectively, and the range of earnings is also much wider.
Earnings by subject and sex
Figure 5 shows the difference between male and female earnings (five years after graduation) for providers by subject, ordered by the proportion of providers whose female graduate median earnings in that subject are over 15% lower than the median earnings for male graduates. The number of providers included for each subject area is available to view in the accompanying table. For example, figure 5 shows that 47.4% of the 38 included providers for Architecture, building and planning had female graduate median earnings that were over 15% lower than their male graduate median earnings.
We have not included, in the charts below, providers where median earnings figures for either sex had to be suppressed to prevent disclosure of personal information – this typically occurs when the number of one or both sexes in the provider studying the subject is small. The number of providers included for each subject can be seen in the accompanying table.
In 21 of the 34 subjects included, more than half of the providers saw male median earnings exceed female median earnings by more than 5%. The subjects with the largest proportions of providers where female median earnings were more than 5% lower than male median earnings were Medicine and dentistry (84.9% of 33 included providers), Nursing and midwifery (82.2% of 45 included providers) and Health and social care (80% of 15).
Medicine and dentistry is the only subject where there were no providers where female median earnings were at least 5% more than male median earnings.
Media, journalism and communications and Geography, earth and environmental studies had the highest proportion of providers where female and male median earnings were within 5% of each other (45.9% and 44.3% respectively).
The only subject in which most providers saw female median earnings exceed male median earnings by more than 5% was Materials and technology where 50% of providers had higher female median earnings. Performing arts also has a high proportion of providers (42.6%) where female median earnings exceed male median earnings by more than 5%.
Comparison of outcomes by subject and tax years
In this section, we compare provider median earnings five years after graduation in the 2014/15 and 2020/21 tax years for each subject. This is to help understand the extent to which average graduate earnings change over time for different subjects.
Outcomes for a certain subject at a particular provider may vary from year to year either due to changes in the way in which it is offered, changes in intake, changes in the graduate labour market or simply random chance (particularly true where the cohort sizes are small).
From Consumer Price Index (CPIH), the rate of inflation between the 2014/15 and 2020/21 tax year is around 10%. For this reason, the groupings of “more than 5% decrease”, “within 5%” and “5% to 10% increase” are considered to be broadly decreases in real terms, while the groupings above this are seen as a broadly real terms increase. For more information on CPIH see Inflation and price indices - Office for National Statistics (ons.gov.uk).
Figure 6 shows how the median earnings of graduates at different providers have changed since the 2014/15 tax year for each subject and is ordered by proportion of providers whose median earnings are more than 20% higher in 2020/21 than they were in 2014/15. Computing had the highest proportion of providers whose median graduate earnings had increased by over 20% since the 2014/15 tax year (73.5% of providers, up from 50% in 2019/20). For most subjects, the proportion of providers seeing an increase in median earnings of at least 10% since 2014/15 is higher in 2020/21 than it was in 2019/20. The list of subjects seeing an increase or decrease in median earnings since 2014/15 is similar to 2019/20. 29 out of the 35 subjects had high proportions of providers where median earnings increased by at least 10% since 2014/15. Subjects where at least 80% of providers had median graduate earnings increase by over 10% since 2014/15 tax year are:
- Computing (88.8% of 98 providers),
- Allied health (86.4% of 66 providers),
- Sociology, social policy and anthropology (86.1% of 86 providers),
- Mathematical sciences (83.8% of 62 providers),
- Law (83.7% of 92 providers),
- History and archaeology (83.7% of 86 providers),
- Geography, earth and environmental studies (83.6% of 67 providers),
- Biosciences (83.3% of 78 providers),
- Politics (82.9% of 64 providers),
- Chemistry (81% of 37 providers),
- Materials and technology (80% of 20 providers),
- General, applied and forensic sciences (80% of 25 providers),
- Business and management (80% of 115 providers).
Some subjects had over 25% of providers seeing a real terms decrease (less than a 5% actual increase) in median earnings since the 2014/15 tax year. These were:
- Veterinary sciences (33.3% of 6 providers),
- Combined and general studies (28.6% of 7 providers),
- Performing arts (26.7% of 101 providers),
- Media, journalism and communications (26% of 81 providers),
- Health and social care (25% of 64 providers),
- Pharmacology, toxicology and pharmacy (25% of 24 providers).
Some of the above subjects experiencing an apparent real terms decrease are likely to lead to jobs in the public sector. These real terms decreases for certain providers likely indicate that earnings in the sector have not increased in line with inflation and therefore are worth less than they were in 2014/15. However, it is true that for some providers median graduate earnings truly did decrease especially for Health and social care.
Interaction of region and earnings at provider level
On 18th July 2019 we published regional graduate outcomes which showed that different regions have different average earnings levels and that this has an influence on the average earnings for graduates at different institutions, even after controlling for other factors (e.g. variation in subject and student characteristics). To quantify the effect of a graduate's region on earnings, figure 9 reweights the graduate population of each provider so that it matches the regional distribution of all graduates and looks at the difference this has on the provider’s average earnings five years after graduation. For example, if University A has 3% of its graduates living in the East Midlands, compared to 7% nationally, then the graduates in the East Midlands from University A will be given a weighting of 2.3. The methodology for this calculation is given in more detail in the methodology document for this release.
Figure 7 shows how the median earnings for providers in each region change when adjusted to account for the regional distribution of their graduates. Regions are ordered by their proportion of providers whose regionally adjusted median was more than 10% higher than their raw median.
We can see that there is a lot of variation in the effect of regionally adjusting earnings on each region’s providers’ median earnings. Providers in the North East, and Yorkshire and the Humber tended to have higher regionally adjusted earnings (suggesting that graduates from these providers typically work in regions with lower typical salaries). Providers in London tended to have lower regionally adjusted earnings (suggesting that graduates from these providers typically work in regions with higher typical salaries – often London itself). The majority of providers in the Midlands, South West, South East, East of England, North West, Scotland and Wales had regional adjusted earnings within 5% of their raw median earnings, meaning that the regional destination of their graduates has little impact on their median earnings.
Figure 8 shows the adjusted median earnings five years after graduation for each provider region. This shows how regions compare in terms of having providers that produce good earnings outcomes for their students, stripping out the skewing effect of variation in regional labour markets. Providers in the North East and Scotland have the highest adjusted median earnings of £31,000 and £31,200 respectively. In contrast, Wales and London providers have some of the lowest adjusted median earnings at £27,000, even though London also contains a few providers with very high earnings outcomes. This suggests that while prospective students in Scotland have access to local providers that produce good earnings outcomes, those in Wales have much less access, as do those in London unless they can get in to one of the small number of top providers.
Full cycle movement (home, study and current regions)
Data on graduate movement throughout the full cycle of study – before attending higher education (home region), during study (study region), and after graduating (current region) can be found in the accompanying Excel tables under the ‘Additional supporting files’ section above. In table 6 of the ‘Provider main tables 2020/21 file, data is provided on the home region of graduates and the region they live in one, three and five years after graduation. This is currently at a provider-level and by sex but not by subject due to high rates of suppression.
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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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