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 first degree qualification (bachelor's degree, or integrated masters degree) and those who graduated with a level 7 (masters) or level 8 (doctoral) postgraduate degree from higher education providers in England. Level 7 results are further split into taught and research study modes where group sizes allow for a meaningful result.
We include comparisons between first degree graduates and postgraduates. 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 not a representative 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.
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 2017/18, 2015/16, 2013/14 and 2008/9 academic years of graduation respectively). For instance, for the 2017/18 graduation cohort, the figures one year after graduation refer to employment and earnings outcomes in the 2019/20 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 (2013/14 academic year of graduation) has been used in a number of breakdowns 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 English Higher Education Providers (Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) and Further Education Colleges (FECs) for all time periods and Alternative Providers (APs) for one and three years after graduation in the 2019/20 tax year; designated APs were not required to return student level data to HESA prior to the 2014/15 academic year).
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. This means it is a better indication of average earnings than the mean.
Employment outcomes for UK domiciled graduates
Employment and/or further study outcomes for UK domiciled graduates are calculated as a percentage of matched graduates, that is those who have been successfully matched to DWP’s Customer Information System (CIS) or a Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) further study record. A small proportion of graduates are unable to be successfully matched and these graduates are excluded from the calculations, as are matched graduates known to be living overseas. Further explanation is provided in the methodology, in the ‘Employment outcomes’ section.
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 CIS 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. th
- 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.
Further 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. That is, 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 Department for Work and Pensions/His Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (DWP/HMRC) and Student Loans Company (SLC) data to identify graduates who informed DWP/HMRC or SLC 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. (More information can be found in the methodology).
Employment outcomes for international graduates
Employment and/or further study outcomes for international graduates are calculated as a percentage of all graduates, unless there is good reason to believe they are permanently living overseas. This is different to the UK domiciled graduates section of this release, where outcomes are calculated as a percentage of matched graduates (rather than all graduates). Match rates to DWP/HMRC and SLC data are much lower for international graduates than UK graduates, therefore including all graduates in the international calculations means we get a better indication of the proportion who have stayed in the UK to work or study after graduation. Further explanation is provided in the methodology in the ‘Data matching and match rates’ section.
Median earnings are calculated for international 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 therefore 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.
For guidance on how to read boxplots in this release, please see the ‘how to read boxplots’ document available in ‘All supporting files’ under the ‘Explore data and files’ section above.