Tax Year 2019-20

LEO Graduate and Postgraduate Outcomes

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Introduction

Longitudinal Education Outcomes (LEO), Graduate and Postgraduate: Employment and earnings outcomes for those who graduated with a first degree (level 6), level 7 or level 8.  

This release combines two previous publications, ‘Graduate Outcomes (LEO)’ and ‘Graduate outcomes (LEO): postgraduate outcomes’, updating figures with the latest available data (2019/20 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 2019/20 tax year will have had a slight overlap with the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, with an official lockdown being in effect during the 2019/20 tax year between the 23rd March 2020 and the 5th April 2020. The Government furlough schemes, Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) and Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS), covered this period of the 2019/20 tax year. These statistics have not been adjusted to account for the COVID-19 pandemic as the overlap on the 2019/20 tax year is slight enough that any impact is expected to be minimal. 

Employment and earnings outcomes given are for first degree graduates and postgraduates of English Higher Education Providers (Higher Education Institutions (HEIs), Alternative Providers (APs) and Further Education Colleges (FECs)), one, three, five and ten years after graduation (YAG), in the 2019/20 tax year. Comparisons to previous tax years from 2014/15 to 2018/19 are included. UK domiciled and International (EU and non-EU domiciled) outcomes are given separately.  

The UK left the EU in January 2020. As there is only a partial overlap with the 2019/20 tax year this may not have yet affected the employment outcomes and earnings of graduates and postgraduates from the EU. When comparing international and UK domiciled it should be noted that non-EU outcomes and earnings are likely affected by post-study visa requirements. 

Comparisons are made between first degree graduates and postgraduate earnings and outcomes. It should be considered 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.   


Headline facts and figures - 2019-20

Explore data and files

All data used in this release is available as open data for download


Open data

Browse and download individual open data files from this release in our data catalogue


Guidance

Learn more about the data files used in this release using our online guidance


Create your own tables

You can view featured tables that we have built for you, or create your own tables from the open data using our table tool


All supporting files

All supporting files from this release are listed for individual download below:

List of all supporting files

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 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. 

Coverage 

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).  

Median earnings

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 beensuccessfully 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 categoryincludes 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. 

Boxplots guidance  

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.  

Graduate Industry Dashboard

To view the LEO graduate industry dashboard, please use the following link: LEO graduate industry dashboard  

The dashboard is split into four themes:   

  • Interactive Sankey charts that show the longitudinal journey of the five year after graduation (YAG) cohort. This shows the number of graduates working in each industry for the selected subject area at one, three and five years after graduation.  For information on how to read Sankey charts, please see the supporting documents in ‘Explore data and files’.  
  • Regional analysis that compares the number of graduates who studied in and are currently living in each region.  

Tables that show proportions and median earnings for combinations of industry, subject, qualification level, sex, prior attainment, current region, ethnicity and FSM status.   

  • Subject by industry tables, which show for the selected subject, which industries those graduates work in at the selected year after graduation. These tables are also expandable to the 3-digit SIC code level providing more granular breakdowns for each of the industry sections.   
  • Industry by subject tables, which show for the selected industry, what subjects the graduates working in that industry studied.   

Once you have created a table in the dashboard table tabs, you can download it as a CSV. The underlying data files are also available in the ‘Explore data and files’ section of this release, and in the EES table tool. 

This interactive dashboard is a recent service that we have developed for LEO data. The aim is to allow users to interrogate effectively the large data source and create bespoke tables and charts based on specific interests. If you have any feedback or suggestions for improvements, please submit them using our feedback form.

UK domiciled - Overall figures

Coverage:  UK first degree graduates, level 7 (taught and research) and level 8 postgraduates from English Higher Education providers.  

Employment and/or further study outcomes for UK domiciled first degree graduates and 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 86.8% for first degree graduates, 86.2% for level 7 (taught), 83.0% for level 7 (research) and 84.0% for level 8 postgraduates. 

First degree graduates and Level 7 (taught) postgraduates had similar proportions in sustained employment only (76.2% and 76.1% respectively) and further study with or without sustained employment (10.6% and 10.1% respectively), five years after graduation. Level 8 postgraduates had the highest proportion in sustained employment only (78.8%) and the lowest proportion in further study with or without sustained employment (5.2%). Level 7 (research) graduates had the highest proportion in further study with or without sustained employment (16.6%), five years after graduation. 

Figure 2 shows the proportion of UK domiciled graduates in sustained employment, further study or both, at five years after graduation, over the tax years 2014/15 to 2019/20. The proportion has been relatively stable across all years and for all qualifications levels. All qualifications levels saw a slight decrease in the 2019/20 tax year compared to the 2018/19 tax year.  

Between 2014/15 and 2019/20, the percentage of UK first degree graduates in sustained employment, further study or both at five years after graduation decreased by 1.5 percentage points (ppts). The percentage of Level 7 (taught) postgraduates also decreased by 1.5 ppts over the same period, Level 7 (research) decreased by 1.8 ppts and Level 8 decreased by 0.3 ppts. 

When making comparisons, it should be borne in mind that these figures relate not only to different tax years but also to different groups of graduates.

Earnings  

Figure 3 shows that the median earnings of graduates at each qualification level increased with years after graduation. For each year after graduation, level 8 graduates had higher median earnings than level 7 graduates (both taught and research) who had higher earnings than first degree graduates. Level 7 (research) graduates had higher median earnings than level 7 (taught) graduates at each year after graduation.   

Figure 3 also shows that between one and ten years after graduation, first degree graduates had the largest increase in median earnings: 

  • First degree earnings were £21,600 one year after graduation, increasing by £10,600 or 49.2% at ten years after graduation. 
  • Level 7 (taught) earnings were £26,700 one year after graduation, increasing by £9,200 or 34.2% at ten years after graduation. 
  • Level 7 (research) earnings were £28,200 one year after graduation increasing by £8,100 or 28.6% at ten years after graduation. 
  • Level 8 earnings were £34,000 one year after graduation increasing by £9,900 or 29.0% at ten years after graduation. 

Earnings in real terms are adjusted for inflation to better reflect what an individual can afford to buy with those earnings. Earnings are adjusted using the 2014/15 tax year as a base year, hence real earnings in this year are presented as equal to ‘nominal’ (unadjusted) earnings. To calculate real earnings for 2015/16 to 2019/20, nominal earnings are adjusted by dividing by the Consumer Price Index (CPIH) inflation rates for that year. See https://www.ons.gov.uk/economy/inflationandpriceindices for more information.  

There was an overall increase in median graduate earnings between the tax years in nominal terms. Between the 2014/15 and 2019/20 tax years, at five years after graduation:   

  • First degree graduate earnings increased from £25,200 to £28,200 (11.9% increase).  
  • Level 7 (taught) graduate earnings increased from £30,700 to £33,700 (9.8% increase). 
  • Level 7 (research) graduate earnings increased from £32,100 to £35,100 (9.4% increase). 
  • Level 8 graduate earnings increased from £36,500 to £39,200 (7.3% increase).  

While average ‘nominal’ (unadjusted) earnings increased between the 2014/15 and 2019/20 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 at higher levels of qualification. 

After adjusting for inflation (real terms), between the 2014/15 and 2019/20 tax years, at five years after graduation: 

  • First degree graduate earnings increased by £700 (2.7%) to £25,900 in real terms. 
  • Level 7 (taught) graduate earnings increased by £200 (0.8%) to £30,900 in real terms. 
  • Level 7 (research) graduate earnings increased by £100 (0.4%) to £32,200 in real terms. 
  • Level 8 graduate earnings decreased by £600 (1.6%) to £35,900 in real terms. 

For a more detailed breakdown of each tax year by year after graduation that shows the graduates included in the earnings figures, the lower and upper quartiles, and the median earnings, please see the table of median earnings for one, three, five and ten years after graduation from 14/15 to 19/20 tax year.  

UK domiciled - Sex

Coverage: UK first degree graduates, level 7 (taught and research) and level 8 postgraduates from English Higher Education providers.  

Employment Outcomes  

Figure 5 shows that for all levels 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 males having a higher proportion than females of activity not captured at each level of study. 

The difference in employment outcomes between female and male first degree graduates at five years after graduation is most apparent in the proportion in further study, with 11.5% of female graduates in further study with or without sustained employment compared to 9.5% of males, a difference of 2 percentage points (ppts). The difference between females and males in sustained employment only was very small, with 76.2% for females and 76.1% for males. 

For postgraduates, the difference in employment outcomes is more apparent in the proportion in sustained employment only. For level 7 (taught) postgraduates, 76.7 % of females were in sustained employment only five years after graduation compared with 75.1% males, a difference of 1.6 ppts, whilst the proportion in further study with or without sustained employment was the same for both females and males (at 10.1%). Similarly, for level 8 postgraduates females had a 1.4 ppts higher proportion in sustained employment only, and only a slightly higher proportion in further study (0.6 ppts higher).  

Earnings  

At every level of study, males had higher median earnings than females one, three, five and ten years after graduation. In the 2019/20 tax year at five years after graduation: 

  • First degree female graduate earnings were 13.1% lower than male 
  • Level 7 (taught) female graduate earnings were 16.3% lower than male 
  • Level 7 (research) female graduate earnings were 11.7% lower than male 
  • Level 8 female graduate earnings were 11.4% lower than male 

This trend can also be seen between qualification levels, where at five years after graduation female level 8 median earnings were 2.9% lower than male level 7 (taught) earnings (£37,000 and £38,100 respectively). 

Some of these variations will be due to differences in the incidence of part-time work by sex. The LEO data is currently unable to distinguish between those who work full-time and those who work part-time and this should be borne in mind when comparing average earnings between the sexes. 

The same trend that is seen in the 2019/20 tax year is also seen when looking across tax years, with males earning more than female graduates at the same qualification level at all years after graduation, and level 7 (taught) male graduates earning more than level 8 female graduates at five years after graduation.  

The rate at which earnings increased between 2014/15 and 2019/20 differs at different qualification levels, with a lower rate of increase for males at higher qualification levels. At five years after graduation: 

  • First degree female earnings increased from £24,100 to £26,700 (10.9%) and male earnings increased from £27,000 to £30,700 (13.8%) 
  • Level 7 (taught) female earnings increased from £28,800 to £31,800 (10.4%) and male earnings increased from £34,300 to £38,100 (10.9%) 
  • Level 7 (research) female earnings increased from £30,300 to £33,300 (9.9%) and male earnings increased from £34,300 to £37,700 (9.9%) 
  • Level 8 female earnings increased from £33,600 to £37,000 (10.1%) and male earnings increased from £38,700 to £41,700 (7.8%) 

There is also variation in the gap between female and male earnings, across tax years and at different qualification levels, with the largest proportional difference seen at level 7 (taught). At five years after graduation: 

  • Female first degree graduate earnings were 10.8% lower than male graduates in 2014/15 which increased to 13.1% in 2019/20 
  • Female level 7 (taught) graduate earnings were 16.0% lower than male graduates in 2014/15 which increased to 16.3% in 2019/20 
  • Female level 7 (research) graduate earnings were 11.7% lower than male graduates in 2014/15 which stayed the same at 11.7% in 2019/20 
  • Female level 8 graduate earnings were 13.2% lower than male graduates in 2014/15 which decreased to 11.4% in 2019/20 

UK domiciled - Subject

Coverage: UK first degree graduates, level 7 (taught and research) and level 8 postgraduates from English Higher Education providers.  

We have included a 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 under ‘All supporting files’ in the ‘Explore data and files’ section above.  

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

Figure 8 shows that Nursing and midwifery had the highest proportion of first degree graduates in sustained employment, further study or both five years after graduation (92.6%). The subject with the lowest proportion was Combined and General studies (80.5%). Combined and General studies graduates also had the highest proportion classified as activity not captured (12.8%), which may indicate a higher proportion of graduates not currently in the UK. 

The proportion of first degree graduates in further study varies by subject, as figure x also shows. Five years after graduation, Pharmacology, toxicology and pharmacy (excluding Celtic studies due to low numbers) had the highest proportion of graduates in further study (28.5%), followed by Medical sciences (25.2%) and Biosciences (22.0%). The subject with the lowest proportion of graduates in further study at five years after graduation was Computing (4%).   

Level 7 employment outcomes by subject can be found here. Like first degree graduates, the subject with the highest proportion of level 7 graduates in sustained employment, further study or both five years after graduation was Nursing and midwifery (91.3%). Looking at employment and further study separately, the subject with the highest proportion of level 7 graduates in sustained employment only was PGCE (82.8%) while Veterinary sciences had the highest proportion in further study (22.9%) (excluding Celtic studies which had a low number of graduates). Economics graduates had the lowest proportion in sustained employment, further study, or both (77.8%) and a correspondingly high proportion classified as activity not captured (16.5%).  

Earnings  

Figure 9 shows subjects ordered by median earnings, showing that for first degree graduates median earnings were highest for Medicine and dentistry (£50,100) and lowest for Performing arts (£21,600). Variability in the interquartile range (difference between lower and upper quartiles) of earnings can be seen between subjects, with Economics graduates having the largest range in earnings (a range of £27,100) and Sport and exercise science graduates and General, applied and forensic sciences graduates having the smallest range (£11,300) 

Male graduate earnings were higher than females for many but not all subjects. Combined and general studies had the highest proportional gap between male and female earnings, with female graduates earning 22.2% less than male. For Performing Arts, female graduates earned 5.0% more than males.  

Figure 10 shows that for level 7 postgraduates, median earnings were highest for those with an MBA (£67,700) and lowest for those who studied Creative arts and design (£22,300). Large variability in the interquartile range (difference between lower and upper quartile) of earnings can be seen between subjects, for example postgraduates with an MBA had the largest interquartile range of £65,500, compared with the smallest range of £11,700 for PGCE postgraduates.   

 Male earnings were higher than female earnings in all subjects for Level 7 graduates, with the largest proportional differences seen in Medicine and dentistry (33.7%) and Agriculture, food and related studies (32.0%) graduates. The lowest proportional differences are seen in Chemistry (2.4%) and Philosophy and religious studies (2.5%).  

Figure 11 shows the change in graduate earnings, at five years after graduation, between the 2014/15 and 2019/20 tax years. It shows Economics graduates had the largest proportional increase in earnings, from £36,900 in 2014/15 to £44,300 in 2019/20 (20.2% increase). Veterinary sciences was the one subject that saw a decrease in earnings over this period, from £33,900 in 2014/15 to £32,900 in 2019/20 (3.0% decrease).  

Figure 12 shows that for level 7 postgraduates, Materials and technology graduates had the largest proportional increase in earnings, from £32,500 in 2014/15 to £42,800 in 2019/20 (31.8% increase). Excluding Celtic studies (which had a low number of graduates), Nursing and midwifery was the one level 7 postgraduate subject that saw a decrease in earnings, from £36,900 in 2014/15 to £34,000 in 2019/20 (7.7% decrease).  

Median earnings for level 7 postgraduates are substantially higher than first degree graduates in some subjects. For example, level 7 Materials and technology postgraduate earnings were £42,800, £17,200 higher than first degree graduate earnings (£25,600), five years after graduation.  

Despite earnings for level 7 postgraduates being higher in most subject areas, there are subjects where first degree graduates had higher earnings. For example, Medicine and dentistry first degree graduates had median earnings of £50,100 five years after graduation, which was £5,100 more than those who completed a level 7 qualification in the same academic year.   

UK domiciled - Current region

Coverage: UK first degree graduates, level 7 (taught and research) and level 8 postgraduates from English Higher Education providers. Figures for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland will not be representative of all graduates living in these regions as this publication only looks at those who studied at an English provider.  

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 postgraduates (i.e. level 7 (taught) and level 7 (research)) are combined for each region.   

Employment Outcomes   

Figure 13 shows that of the English regions, East Midlands and West Midlands had the highest proportion of first degree graduates in sustained employment, further study or both (87.9%) five years after graduation. Graduates residing in the London region had the lowest proportion in sustained employment, further study or both of the English regions (85.1%).  

For level 7 postgraduates, those living in the North East had the highest proportion in sustained employment, further study or both (88.8%), five years after graduation. Like first degree graduates, the region with the lowest proportion of level 7 graduates in sustained employment, further study or both was London (82.6%). 

Earnings  

As shown in figure 14 and the map in figure 15, first degree graduates and level 7 postgraduates from English providers currently living in London had the highest median earnings five years after graduation (£33,300 and £39,200 respectively). Northern Ireland had lowest earnings for both first degree and level 7 at five years after graduation (£24,200 and £29,600 respectively). Of the English regions, first degree graduates living in the North East had the lowest median earnings (£24,900) and for level 7 postgraduates, those living in the South West or North West had the lowest earnings (£31,100). 

 Looking at the difference in earnings between male and female graduates by region: 

  • For first degree graduates, those living in the North West had the smallest gender pay gap, with female graduates having median earnings 9.5% lower than male graduates. The English region with the largest gender gap was the South West, with female graduates having earnings 15.2% lower than males. Across all of the UK, graduates living in Wales had the largest gender gap at 15.7%, and those living in Scotland also had one of the largest gaps at 15.3%. 
  • For level 7 postgraduates, the North East was the region with the smallest gender gap, with female earnings 8.5% lower than males. The English region with largest gender gap for level 7 postgraduates was also the South West (as it was for first degree graduates), with female earnings 22.0% lower than males. Across all of the UK, level 7 postgraduates living in Scotland had the largest gender gap at 23.4%. 

Figure 16 shows that, of the English regions, the largest increase in median earnings between the 2014/15 and 2019/20 tax years, for first degree graduates five years after graduation, was seen in London in (£4,500, 15.5%). Earnings in North East showed the smallest increase (£1,900, 8.2%).  

For level 7 postgraduates, the English region with the largest increase in median earnings between 2014/15 and 2019/20 was London in absolute terms (£4,500, 12.9%), but was the North East in percentage terms (£3,700, 13.0%). Over the same period, earnings of level 7 postgraduates living in the South West had the lowest increase of the English regions (£1,900,6.5%). 

To illustrate how regional differences vary by subject studied, figure 17 plots median earnings for the English region with the highest median earnings for first degree graduates (London) against that with the lowest (North East). Data for all other regions can be found in the underlying data CSV document under ‘Open data’ in the 'Explore data and files’ section above.

Figure 17 shows that with the exception of those who studied Pharmacology, toxicology and pharmacy or Veterinary Sciences, earnings were higher for graduates of all subjects in London, with the smallest differences in Medicine and dentistry (£400, 0.7%), Architecture building and planning (£2,900, 8.7%) and Engineering (£4,800, 13.7%) and the largest differences in Physics and astronomy (£18,700, 67.1%), Mathematical sciences (£15,400, 53.2%) and Languages and area studies (£11,700, 47.1%).  

UK domiciled - Ethnicity

Coverage: UK first degree graduates and level 7 (taught and research) from English Higher Education providers.  

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

Due to small numbers when broken down by ethnicity, level 8 postgraduates are not included in this section. The data for level 8 postgraduates by ethnicity can be found in the underlying data CSV document under ‘Open data’ in the 'Explore data and files’ section above.

Employment Outcomes 

Figure 18 shows that UK graduates from the White ethnic group had the highest percentage of graduates in sustained employment, further study or both five years after graduation (88.0%), and UK graduates from the Arab ethnic group had the lowest (74.7%). This was driven by the large percentage of graduates from some ethnic groups in the ‘activity not captured’ category. At five years after graduation, 6.6% of graduates from the White ethnic group were in ‘activity not captured’, compared to 12.5% of graduates from the Arab ethnic group and 16.8% of graduates from the Chinese ethnic group. 

Earnings 

Figure 19 shows that for first degree graduates those from the Indian ethnic group had the highest median earnings at five years after graduation (£31,500). For level 7 postgraduates those from the Chinese ethnic group had the highest median earnings five years after graduation (£37,900).

UK domiciled - Age at start of study

Coverage: UK first degree graduates from English Higher Education providers.  

Employment Outcomes 

At three, five and ten years after graduation the age band with the highest percentage in sustained employment, further study or both was those who were under 21 at the start of their course. Table x shows that at one year after graduation, the ’35 to 44’ and ’25 to 34’ age bands both had a slightly higher proportion of graduates in sustained employment, further study or both (89.1% and 88.9% respectively) than the ‘under 21’ age band (88.7%). 

At one, three, five and ten years after graduation, those who were aged 55 or over at the start of their course were the least likely of age groups to be in sustained employment, further study or both. Those who were in this age category would be at least 58 years old one year after graduation and at least 68 years old ten years after graduation. The 55 or older group is a very small proportion (0.5%) of the five years after graduation cohort with the vast majority aged under 21 (73.6%). 

Earnings 

Figure 21 shows that one and three years after graduation, the age band with the highest median earnings were those who were ‘35 to 44’ at the start of their course. At five and ten years after graduation, those who were under 21 at the start of their course had the highest median earnings. 

Median earnings increased the most between one and ten years after graduation for those aged under 21 at the start of their course (increasing by £12,100).  All those aged 44 and under at the start of their course had an increase in median earnings between one and ten years after graduation. Those aged 45 and over had a decrease in median earnings between one and ten years after graduation, which may be due to a higher incidence of part-time working in older age groups (see Graduate labour market statistics).  

The linked table here shows that for all age bands median earnings five years after graduation increased between 2014/15 and 2019/20 tax years. 

UK domiciled - Mode of study

Coverage: UK first degree graduates from English Higher Education providers.  

Employment Outcomes 

Figure 22 illustrates the breakdown of those graduates in sustained employment, further study or both, five years after graduation. There was a higher percentage of graduates who studied full-time courses in sustained employment, further study or both than graduates who studied part-time courses. However, the percentage of graduates who took sandwich courses in sustained employment, further study or both exceeded both the graduates who took full-time and part-time courses. This trend was seen one, three, five and ten years after graduation, as shown in table 22.  

Earnings 

Figure 23 shows that at one, three, five and ten years after graduation, graduates from sandwich courses earned more on average than graduates from other full-time courses. At one, three and five years after graduation, graduates who studied part-time earned more than graduates who studied full-time, although the difference between the two decreased with time. At ten years after graduation, those who studied full-time were generally earning more than those who studied part-time. Part of the reason for the differences in earnings is the different age distribution of graduates from part-time courses compared to their full-time counterparts, with only 16.9% of part-time graduates in the overall cohort starting their course before age 21, compared to 80.7% of full-time graduates.  

UK domiciled - Free school meals (FSM)

Coverage: Young (under 21 at the start of the course) UK first degree graduates from English Higher Education providers. Due to the availability of data from the National Pupil Database (NPD), data for this characteristic is only available up to five years after graduation. 

Free school meals (FSM) eligibility is based on the school census records at any point between school years 6 and 11. For more information on how we calculate FSM eligibility, please see the methodology ‘Definitions’ section.  

Employment Outcomes 

Table 24 shows that at one, three and five years after graduation, graduates whose families claimed free school meals (FSM) were less likely to be in sustained employment, further study or both than graduates whose families did not claim FSM. The slight decrease in percentage in ‘sustained employment, further study or both’ between three and five years after graduation for both FSM and non-FSM graduates was accompanied by an increase in the percentage in ‘activity not captured’ in the same time period. 

Figure 24 illustrates the breakdown of those graduates in sustained employment, further study or both for the five years after graduation cohort. 

Earnings 

Figure 25 shows that median earnings of graduates who were eligible for free school meals were lower than those who were not eligible for free school meals; £1,900 (8.9%) lower one year after graduation, £2,200 (8.7%) lower three years after graduation and £2,900 (10.3%) lower five years after graduation. The ‘Not known’ category contained a number of pupils from independent schools where data on Free School Meal status was not collected.  

UK domiciled - Higher Education (HE) participation of local area (POLAR)

Coverage: Young (under 21 at start of course) UK first degree graduates from English Higher Education providers.  

POLAR (participation of local area) is a measure of disadvantage, which classifies graduates based on geographical area prior to study. Graduates from POLAR quintile 1 are from the most disadvantaged areas, and graduates from POLAR quintile 5 are from the most advantaged areas. For more information on POLAR, please see the methodology ‘Definitions’ section. 

Employment Outcomes 

For one, three, five and ten years after graduation, POLAR quintile 1 (the most disadvantaged areas) had the highest percentage of young graduates in sustained employment, further study or both. Excluding the ‘Not known’ category, POLAR quintile 5 had the lowest percentage for one, three, five and ten years after graduation.   

This result is likely to be influenced by the ‘London effect’ on POLAR as highlighted in this POLAR FAQ document. Essentially, young people across London are more likely to access higher education than young people elsewhere in the UK. POLAR reflects this and therefore there are very few areas of London that are quintile 1 or 2. This does not mean that this area-based measure is indicating that all young people in London are highly likely to enter higher education, just that a greater proportion will do so relative to other areas of the UK. London is the region of the UK with the highest number of small areas that are simultaneously classified as deprived using the Index of Multiple Deprivation (IMD), and not classified as low participation using POLAR. Across the UK, and therefore within London too, there will be individuals living in areas with relatively high participation who may have other characteristics that are associated with lower access to higher education. Therefore assessments of individuals should consider multiple aspects of their background.

Earnings 

At one, three, five and ten years after graduation, POLAR quintile 1 graduates had the lowest median earnings and POLAR quintile 5 graduates the highest earnings (excluding the POLAR quintile ‘Not known’ category). POLAR quintile 5 graduates also had the highest difference in earnings between one year after graduation and ten years after graduation (£13,900 increase) and POLAR quintile 1 graduates the lowest (£10,200 increase).   

UK domiciled - Prior Attainment

Coverage: Young (under 21 at start of course) UK first degree graduates from English Higher Education providers.  

This section uses UCAS points achieved at A level to define prior attainment. Three A/A* grades is equivalent to 360 points, while 180 points is equivalent to three D grades. Further explanation of prior attainment breakdowns, and a table of UCAS point and grade equivalents can be found in the methodology ‘Definitions' section. 

Employment Outcomes 

At one, three and five years after graduation, the graduates with the highest prior attainment had the highest proportions in sustained employment, further study or both, with the largest proportions of further study being seen in the highest prior attainment bands.  

Earnings 

At one, three and five years after graduation (excluding the ‘Not known’ category), the prior attainment band with the highest median earnings was ‘4 As at A level or more’, and the band with the lowest median earnings was those who started their first degree with a BTEC qualification. 

The largest increases in earnings between one and five years after graduation were seen in the higher prior attainment bands while the lower attainment bands saw smaller increases. Those who achieved exactly 360 UCAS points saw the largest percentage increase (37.8%), while those who achieved below 180 points had the smallest increase (27.8%).  

UK domiciled - Home region

Coverage: Young (under 21 at the start of the course) UK domiciled first degree graduates from English Higher Education providers.   

Employment Outcomes 

Excluding those whose home region is ‘Not known’, first degree graduates whose home region was London had the lowest percentage in sustained employment, further study or both across English regions in all four graduate cohorts, while the remaining English regions saw relatively small differences.

Earnings 

Five years after graduation (not including the ‘Not known’ category), the highest earning female graduates were originally from London, while male graduates from both London and the South East had the joint highest median earnings. In all English regions male median earnings are higher than female median earnings, and at five years after graduation the South East and the South West have the largest gender pay gap, both at 14.1%.   

At one year after graduation, graduates from London and the South East had the joint highest median earnings. At three, five and ten years after graduation, graduates from London remained the highest earners and graduates from the South East were the second highest earners. Graduates from London also saw the largest increase in median earnings between one and ten years after graduation (an increase of 65.6%), and again the South East was the second highest (at 63.9%). Graduates from the North East had the lowest median earnings every year after graduation, and graduates from the East Midlands saw the smallest change in median earnings between one and ten years after graduation (52.6%).  

UK domiciled - Full cycle movement (home, study and current regions)

Coverage: Young (under 21 at the start of the course) UK domiciled first degree graduates from English Higher Education providers.   

This section looks at the graduate movement throughout the full cycle of study – before (home region), during (study region), and after (current region). This section summarises whether or not graduates moved from their home region to attend higher education, and then where they reside one, three, five and ten years after graduation. 

One year after graduation, a large proportion (82%) are currently living in their original home region (37.8% of which studied in this region and therefore never left, and 44.2% of which studied elsewhere but have returned to their home region one year after graduation). Ten years after graduation, this proportion has reduced to 66.1%.   

Graduates who left their home region to study were not more likely beyond the short-term to stay in their study region over moving elsewhere. Although graduates one year after graduation were more likely to live in their study region than elsewhere, graduates three, five and ten years after graduation were more likely to live elsewhere than their study region.  

International graduates - Overall figures

Coverage: International first degree graduates, level 7 (taught and research) and level 8 postgraduates from English Higher Education providers.   

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 or SLC as permanently living overseas. This removes graduates 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 graduates compared to UK domiciled graduates (30.0% of EU and 60.9% of non-EU first degree graduates are unmatched in the five years after graduation cohort, compared to 1.4% of UK domiciled graduates, as shown in table 34 below and table 1 in the UK domiciled – Overall figures section). This is because LEO relies on graduates 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 matching and match rates' section.  

It is important to emphasise that 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.   

 Employment Outcomes  

Figure 34 shows that at five years after graduation, the proportion of EU first degree, Level 7 (research) and Level 8 graduates in sustained employment, further study or both in the UK, five years after graduation was broadly similar: 40.0%, 39.9% and 40.6% respectively. Level 7 (taught) EU graduates had a comparatively lower proportion of 29.6%.  

Non-EU graduates had a lower proportion of graduates in sustained employment, further study or both compared with EU graduates. For non-EU first degree graduates this was 15.3%, for Level 7 (taught) 12.1%, Level 7 (research) 23.7% and Level 8 24.3%. For level 7 research graduates, there was a higher proportion in further study (with or without sustained employment) than at other qualification levels. Level 8 graduates have a higher proportion in sustained employment only when compared to non-EU graduates at other qualification levels, which may be driven by the increased likelihood of being able to meet minimum earnings threshold required for non-EU workers in the UK (see earnings section).  

The proportion of EU graduates in sustained employment, further study or both, five years after graduation has increased between 2014/15 and 2019/20 tax years across all qualification levels, which can be seen in the linked table. At five years after graduation, first degree EU graduates saw the largest increase from 32.0% in 2014/15 to 40.0% in 2019/20.  

However, for non-EU graduates there has been a reduction in the proportion of first degree, level 7 (taught) and level 8 graduates in sustained employment, further study or both in the UK between the 2014/15 and 2019/20 tax years, five years after graduation. The largest percentage reduction was seen for level 7 (taught) graduates, moving from 20.2% in 2014/15 to 12.1% in 2019/20.  

Earnings 

Figure 35 shows EU and non-EU graduates had higher median earnings than UK graduates at all qualification levels, five years after graduation, with the exception of non-EU Level 7 (research) where earnings were equal to UK graduates. At five years after graduation: 

  • First degree EU graduate earnings were £32,600 and non-EU earnings were £32,900, 15.7% and 16.9% higher than UK graduates (£28,200) respectively. 
  • Level 7 taught EU graduate earnings were £38,400 and non-EU earnings were £34,800, 14.1% and 3.3% higher than UK earnings (£33,700) respectively.  
  • Level 7 (research) EU graduate earnings were £36,600, 4.2% higher than UK earnings (£35,100). Non-EU earnings were equal to UK as mentioned previously.  
  • Level 8 EU graduate earnings were £40,600 and non-EU earnings were £39,900, 3.7% and 1.9% higher than UK earnings (£39,200) respectively.  

Looking at the interquartile range (range between the lower 25% and upper 25% of the graduate population included in earnings figures) we see some variation in the distribution of earnings between the groups. At five years after graduation: 

  • For first degree graduates, the widest range in earnings was for non-EU graduates, with a range of £26,700 compared with £22,300 for EU graduates and £16,800 for UK graduates.  
  • For level 7 (taught) and level 7 (research), non-EU graduates have the widest range in earnings (£31,500 and £28,500 respectively) compared to EU and UK graduates.  
  • For level 8, UK graduates had a wider range of earnings (£21,200) than EU and non-EU graduates.  

Non-EU domiciled first degree, level 7 (taught) and level 8 graduates all had larger increases in median earnings five years after graduation between 2014/15 and 2019/20 tax years, compared with UK and EU domiciled graduates, which can be seen in the linked table. At five years after graduation:  

  • Non-EU domiciled first degree graduate earnings increased from £28,500 in 2014/15 to £32,900 in 2019/20 (15.7% increase). EU domiciled graduate earnings increased from £28,800 to £32,600 (13.0%) over the same period, with UK domiciled graduates increasing from £25,200 to £28,200 (11.9%). 
  • Non-EU domiciled level 7 (taught) graduate earnings increased from £28,800 in 2014/15 to £34,800 in 2019/20 (20.6% increase). EU domiciled graduate earnings increased from £32,500 to £38,400 (18.3%) over the same period, with UK domiciled graduates increasing from £30,700 to £33,700 (9.8%). 
  • Non-EU domiciled level 8 graduate earnings increased from £36,500 in 2014/15 to £39,900 in 2019/20 (9.3% increase). EU domiciled graduate earnings increased from £37,200 to £40,600 (9.1%) over the same period, with UK domiciled graduates increasing from £36,500 to £39,200 (7.3%). 

International graduates - Domicile and sex

Coverage: International first degree, level 7 (taught and research) and level 8 graduates from English Higher Education providers.  

Employment Outcomes  

EU domiciled female graduates were more likely to have remained in the UK and to be in ‘sustained employment, further study or both’ than EU domiciled male graduates at every level. Non-EU domiciled male and female graduates were almost equally likely to have remained in the UK and to be in sustained employment, further study or both at every level.   

For both EU and non-EU graduates, these rates are considerably lower than they are for UK domiciled graduates. As discussed in the ‘Data matching and match rates’ section in the methodology, this is because international graduates are more likely to be ‘unmatched’ in the LEO data or be recorded as ‘activity not captured’.   

Earnings 

Both male and female EU domiciled graduates earned more than UK domiciled graduates at every level other than Level 7 (research), where UK domiciled graduates had higher median earnings.  

For non-EU domiciled graduates, both male and female first degree graduates earned more than UK domiciled, however at the postgraduate levels, non-EU domiciled males earned less than or equal to UK domiciled males, while non-EU domiciled females earnt more than UK domiciled.  

The largest gender gap in earnings was between Level 7 (taught) EU male and female graduates (22.8%), with EU domiciled graduates also having a larger gender gap than UK and non-EU domiciled graduates at all levels. Non-EU domiciled graduates of all levels had the lowest gender pay gaps, and Level 7 (research) graduates actually had a negative gap of -0.5% as females had slightly higher median earnings than males, though this group is small. The smaller gender gap for non-EU graduates is likely to be due to the minimum earnings threshold required for non-EU graduates to stay and work in the UK.  

International graduates - Country

Coverage: International first degree and level 7 postgraduates from English Higher Education providers.  

This section concentrates specifically on the twenty countries with the largest international graduate populations (graduates from English Higher Education providers only). The top 20 countries by graduate population were initially calculated from the 2018/19 tax year, one year after graduation (2016/17 academic year). These countries were used for subsequent analysis to allow for comparison between the remaining tax and academic years. 

Employment Outcomes  

For both EU and Non-EU domiciled first degree graduates, the pattern of employment outcomes was highly variable between countries. Poland, Romania and Ireland had low proportions of ‘unmatched’ graduates and high proportions of graduates in ‘sustained employment only’ or ‘further study (with or without sustained employment)’. In contrast, China, Singapore, Malaysia, South Korea and Hong Kong had high proportion of ‘unmatched’ graduates and a low proportion of graduates in sustained employment only or ‘further study (with or without sustained employment)’.  

For Level 7 graduates, Ireland, Italy and Greece had the smallest proportion of ‘unmatched’ graduates and the highest proportions in ‘sustained employment only’ or ‘further study with or without sustained employment’. China, Taiwan (province of China), Saudi Arabia and Thailand all saw large proportions of unmatched graduates.  

Earnings 

For the EU countries with the largest first degree graduate populations, there was some variability in median earnings five years after graduation, Germany had the highest median earnings (£38,400) and Greece had the lowest median earnings (£30,400). Germany also had the largest gender pay gap of all EU and Non-EU countries (34.7%) while female graduates from Korea (south) and Spain actually had higher median earnings than male graduates.  

For the non-EU countries with the largest graduate populations, there was a larger amount of variability in median earnings. Singapore had the highest median earnings (£51,400) and Korea (South) had the lowest median earnings (£26,500). This difference is likely to be influenced by the subject mix of these graduates. The proportion of graduates domiciled in Singapore studying subjects with the high median earnings, such as Medicine and Dentistry and Economics, was significantly higher than the proportion of graduates domiciled in Korea (South). Additionally, the proportion of Korea (South) domiciled graduates studying Creative arts and design (a subject with lower median earnings) was significantly higher than the proportion of Singapore domiciled graduates. 

Looking at the countries with the largest Level 7 graduate populations, there was again variability in median earnings. Graduates from Canada saw the highest median earnings of £43,900, while graduates from Vietnam saw the lowest median earnings (£20,500) and the largest gender pay gap (41.2%). Level 7 graduates from China saw the smallest gender pay gap (7.5%). 

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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.

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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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