Tax year 2020-21

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 qualification. 

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. 

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 2020/21 tax year. Earnings figures are reported for graduates who are in sustained employment only, rather than all graduates or those who are in further study as well as employment. Comparisons to previous tax years from 2014/15 to 2019/20 are included. UK domiciled and International (EU and non-EU domiciled) outcomes are given separately. 

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 a number of local restrictions in place during autumn 2020. These lockdowns negatively impacted graduate earnings and employment in 2020/21. Data on the government’s Coronavirus employment schemes (relating to graduates) are presented in the ‘About this release’ section to provide context for this by quantifying, for example, the volume of graduates who received an employment support grant. 

The UK left the EU in January 2020. As 2020/21 is the first full tax year following exit from the EU, this may have affected the employment and earnings of graduates and postgraduates from the EU compared to previous tax years. 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 - 2020-21

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About this release

Background

The LEO dataset links information about students, including:

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

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

The LEO dataset is generated each year using the latest available data, which means that each annual LEO dataset includes revisions to previous years in the time series as a result of changes in the latest available data and improved matching between data sources. When comparisons are made in this publication between earnings and employment outcomes in 2020/21 and previous years, we are comparing against previous years figures as they are in this latest annual LEO dataset rather than previously published figures.

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.  

Coronavirus employment support schemes

COVID-19 lockdowns and restrictions negatively impacted graduate earnings and employment in 2020/21. Data on the government’s Coronavirus employment schemes (relating to graduates) are presented here and allow us to provide context for this by quantifying, for example, the volume of graduates who received an employment support grant. However, this data does not give a complete picture of the scale of the impacts of lockdowns and restrictions on this population. 

The government announced two employment schemes to support employers and business owners during the COVID-19 period. The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) began on 20 March 2020 and ended on 30 September 2021. The Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) began on 13 May 2020 and ended on 30 September 2021Both schemes covered the lockdown periods in the 2020/21 tax year covered by this publication. The CJRS and SEISS datasets were matched to the HE LEO publication data to identify graduates who had been in receipt of either of these HMRC Covid-19 employment support schemes for at least one week in the 2020/21 tax year.

This data does have limitations, for example, employers were able to furlough employees and pay them without the aid of the CJRS, and some employees may not have been eligible to be furloughed through the scheme. Not all self-employed people applied or were eligible for the SEISS grants. For more information about the schemes see Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme statistics: 16 December 2021 - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk) and Self-Employment Income Support Scheme statistics: December 2021 - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk).

The headline impact is that the groups with the lowest earnings and employment outcomes typically had the highest rates of employment support. More recent graduates, younger graduates, graduates with lower prior attainment, and graduates studying subjects with low earnings outcomes (such as Performing Arts or Creative Arts and Design) had higher rates of employment support. This means we see wider gaps in earnings and employment outcomes across various breakdowns in the 2020/21 tax year compared to the previous tax year.

The following breakdowns give the proportions of graduates who were in receipt of any of the employment support schemes.  More detailed data is available in the 'Coronavirus Employment Support Scheme data’ file under the ‘Additional supporting files’ section above.

  • 32.1% of the 1 YAG (years after graduation) First-degree cohort were in receipt of support compared to 23.9% for 5 YAG cohort.
  • For all YAGs, First-degree cohorts have higher proportions in receipt of support compared to Level 7 or Level 8.
  • Proportions receiving support are similar for males and females (1 YAG, First-degree cohort) at 33.1% for males and 31.4% for females. The proportions are slightly higher for males when looking at the Level 7 cohort, 20.3% for males and 16.8% for females. 
  • 35.1% of graduates (1 YAG, First-degree) who were under 21 at the start of study received support compared to 23.1% for those aged 21 and over at the start of study. Proportions are closer when looking at the 5 YAG cohort, 24.9% for under 21 group and 21.2% for the 21 and over group.
  • When comparing graduates who received free school meals (FSM) with those that did not receive FSM, the proportion receiving employment support are similar at 35.2% for non-FSM and 36.8% for FSM (1 YAG, First-degree). 
  • For the 1 YAG, First-degree cohort, graduates from the White and Black Caribbean, White and Black African and Other ethnic groups had the highest proportion receiving employment support at 36.6%, 36.1% and 35.9% respectively. Graduates from the African and Indian ethnic groups had the lowest proportions at 23.9% and 25.3% respectively. 
  • When looking at prior attainment (1 YAG, First-degree cohort), graduates with the highest prior attainment (4 As or more at A level) had the lowest proportion requiring employment support at 13.9%. In contrast, 36.9% to 41.0% of graduates with lower prior attainment (below 300 UCAS points) needed employment support.
  • Subjects (1 YAG, First-degree) where levels of employment support are over 40% are: Performing arts (59.3%), Creative arts and design (56.3%), Sports and exercise sciences (50.9%), Media, journalism and communications (48.2%), Architecture, building and planning (45.7%), Veterinary sciences (43.0%), Materials and technology (42.9%) and English studies (40.1%). The subjects with the lowest proportions are: Medicine and dentistry (1.9%), Nursing and midwifery (2.5%), Pharmacology, toxicology and pharmacy (8.4%) and Medical sciences (12.2%).

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 2018/19, 2016/17, 2014/15 and 2009/10 academic years of graduation respectively). 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 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. This includes Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) and Further Education Colleges (FECs) for all time periods and Alternative Providers (APs) for the time periods for which data is available; 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 typical 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 accompanying methodology document.

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.
  • 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 accompanying methodology document.

Median earnings are calculated for international graduates classified as being in ‘sustained employment only’ in the UK. Therefore, the results only cover 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 linkLEO 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. 
  • 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 effectively interrogate 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, 86.7% for level 7 (taught), 85.1% for level 7 (research) and 84.1% for level 8 postgraduates.

First degree graduates and level 7 (taught) postgraduates had similar proportions in sustained employment only (76.4% and 76.3% respectively) and the same proportion in further study with or without sustained employment (10.4%), five years after graduation. Level 8 postgraduates had the highest proportion in sustained employment only (79.7%) and the lowest proportion in further study with or without sustained employment (4.4%). Level 7 (research) graduates had the highest proportion in further study with or without sustained employment (17.8%), 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 2020/21. The proportion has been relatively stable across all years and for all qualifications levels. All qualifications levels saw a slight decrease in the 2020/21 tax year compared to the 2019/20 tax year except for level 7 (research), which increased from 83.8% to 85.1%. 

Over the whole time period, from 2014/15 and 2020/21, the percentage in sustained employment, further study or both at five years after graduation decreased by 1.6 percentage points (ppts) for first degree graduates and decreased by 1.2 ppts for level 7 (taught) postgraduates. The percentage of level 7 (research) and level 8 postgraduates in sustained employment, further study or both increased very slightly, by 0.1 ppts and 0.3 ppts respectively.

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 £21,500 one year after graduation, increasing by £11,300 or 52.5% at ten years after graduation.
  • Level 7 (taught) earnings were £27,400 one year after graduation, increasing by £9,500 or 34.7% at ten years after graduation.
  • Level 7 (research) earnings were £28,700 one year after graduation increasing by £10,600 or 37.1% at ten years after graduation.
  • Level 8 earnings were £34,700 one year after graduation increasing by £10,200 or 29.5% 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 2020/21, 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 2020/21 tax years, at five years after graduation: 

  • First degree graduate earnings increased from £25,200 to £28,800 (14.5% increase). 
  • Level 7 (taught) graduate earnings increased from £30,700 to £35,000 (14.3% increase).
  • Level 7 (research) graduate earnings increased from £32,100 to £36,700 (15.4% increase).
  • Level 8 graduate earnings increased from £36,500 to £40,500 (11.0% increase). 

While average ‘nominal’ (unadjusted) earnings increased between the 2014/15 and 2020/21 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 2020/21 tax years, at five years after graduation:

  • First degree graduate earnings increased by £1,000 (4.0%) to £26,200 in real terms.
  • Level 7 (taught) graduate earnings increased by £1,200 (3.8%) to £31,800 in real terms.
  • Level 7 (research) graduate earnings increased by £1,500 (4.8%) to £33,500 in real terms.
  • Level 8 graduate earnings increased by £300 (0.8%) to £36,800 in real terms.

Looking at the change in real terms earnings between the 2019/20 and 2020/21 tax years, for first degree graduates one year after graduation earnings decreased by £200 (1.3%) from £19,800 to £19,600, whereas generally earnings one year after graduation have increased year on year. For level 7 and level 8 postgraduates, the change in one year after graduation earnings between 2019/20 and 2020/21 wasn’t notably different to the changes between previous tax years. These findings could suggest that economic shocks in 2020/21, such as the COVID pandemic and the UK’s exit from the EU, had the most impact on new first degree graduates; more so than new postgraduates and graduates from earlier cohorts who had likely had longer spells of employment than the most recent cohort (the three, five and ten years after graduation cohorts did not see decreases in earnings between 2019/20 and 2020/21 as the one year after graduation cohort did).

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 11.3% of female graduates in further study with or without sustained employment compared to 9.2% of males, a difference of 2.1 percentage points (ppts). The difference between females and males in sustained employment only was very small, with 76.5% for females and 76.3% for males.

For postgraduates, the difference in employment outcomes is more apparent in the proportion in sustained employment only. For level 7 (taught) postgraduates, 76.9 % of females were in sustained employment only five years after graduation compared with 75.3% males, a difference of 1.6 ppts, whilst the difference was smaller for the proportion in further study with or without sustained employment at 10.7% for females and 10.1% for males. Similarly, for level 8 postgraduates females had a 1.1 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 2020/21 tax year at five years after graduation:

  • First degree female graduate earnings were 11.8% lower than male
  • Level 7 (taught) female graduate earnings were 15.9% lower than male
  • Level 7 (research) female graduate earnings were 14.5% lower than male
  • Level 8 female graduate earnings were 11.9% lower than male

This trend can also be seen between qualification levels, where at five years after graduation female level 8 median earnings were 2.8% lower than male level 7 (taught) earnings (£38,000 and £39,100 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 2020/21 tax year is also seen when looking across other 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 for females and males between 2014/15 and 2020/21 differs at different qualification levels. At five years after graduation:

  • First degree female earnings increased from £24,100 to £27,400 (13.6%) and male earnings increased from £27,000 to £31,000 (14.9%)
  • Level 7 (taught) female earnings increased from £28,800 to £32,800 (13.9%) and male earnings increased from £34,300 to £39,100 (13.8%)
  • Level 7 (research) female earnings increased from £30,300 to £34,300 (13.3%) and male earnings increased from £34,300 to £40,200 (17.0%)
  • Level 8 female earnings increased from £33,600 to £38,000 (13.0%) and male earnings increased from £38,700 to £43,100 (11.3%)

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 11.8% in 2020/21
  • Female level 7 (taught) graduate earnings were 16.0% lower than male graduates in 2014/15 which decreased slightly to 15.9% in 2020/21
  • Female level 7 (research) graduate earnings were 11.7% lower than male graduates in 2014/15 which increased to 14.5% in 2020/21
  • Female level 8 graduate earnings were 13.2% lower than male graduates in 2014/15 which decreased to 11.9% in 2020/21

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. 

Due to small numbers when broken down by  subject, level 8 postgraduates are not included here. Data for level 8 postgraduates by  subject is available under ‘Open data’ in the ‘Explore data and files’ section above.

Employment outcomes

Figure 8 shows that Medicine and dentistry had the highest proportion of first degree graduates in sustained employment, further study or both five years after graduation (92.8%). The subject with the lowest proportion was Combined and General studies (80.4%). Combined and General studies graduates also had the highest proportion classified as activity not captured (12.5%), 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 8 also shows. Five years after graduation, Pharmacology, toxicology and pharmacy had the highest proportion of graduates in further study (30.5%), followed by Veterinary sciences (25.0%) and Medical sciences (23.2%). The subject with the lowest proportion of graduates in further study at five years after graduation was Computing (3.2%).  

Level 7 employment outcomes by subject can be found in the linked table here. The subject (excluding Celtic studies due to low numbers) with the highest proportion of level 7 graduates in sustained employment, further study or both five years after graduation was Health and social care (92.9%). 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 Psychology (excluding Celtic studies due to low numbers) had the highest proportion in further study (21.7%). Philosophy and religious studies graduates had the lowest proportion in sustained employment, further study, or both (75.3%) and correspondingly the highest proportion classified as activity not captured (20.3%).

Earnings 

Figure 9 shows subjects ordered by median earnings, showing that for first degree graduates median earnings were highest for Medicine and dentistry (£52,600) and lowest for Performing arts (£20,800). 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 £28,100) and Sport and exercise science 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 24.1% less than male graduates. For Media, journalism and communications, female graduates earned 6.2% more than males. 

Fig 10 shows that for level 7 postgraduates, median earnings were highest (excluding MBA postgraduates, as MBAs differ to other postgraduate courses in that they are typically taken by those who already have professional work experience) for those who studied Economics (£51,100) and lowest for those who studied Performing arts (£23,400). Large variability in the interquartile range (difference between lower and upper quartile) of earnings can be seen between subjects, for example postgraduates (excluding MBA) who studied Law had the largest interquartile range of £35,800, compared with the smallest range of £11,300 for PGCE postgraduates.  

Male earnings were higher than female earnings in all subjects for Level 7 graduates, with the largest proportional differences seen in Veterinary sciences (39.8%) and Medicine and dentistry (26.9%) graduates. The lowest proportional differences are seen in Chemistry (3.1%) and PGCE (3.3%). 

Fig 11 shows the change in graduate earnings, at five years after graduation, between the 2014/15 and 2020/21 tax years. It shows Computing graduates had the largest proportional increase in earnings, from £27,000 in 2014/15 to £33,200 in 2020/21 (23.0% increase). Veterinary sciences had the smallest proportional increase in earnings over this period, from £33,900 in 2014/15 to £34,300 in 2020/21 (1.1% increase).

When median earnings by subject are adjusted for inflation (real term earnings), increases in earnings compared to 2014/15 are greatly reduced. Real term earnings for Veterinary sciences graduates decreased by 8.2% between 2014/15 and 2020/21. Real term earnings also decreased for graduates of Education and teaching (by 2.4%), Performing arts (2.3%) and Media, journalism and communication (0.2%). Real term earnings of first degree graduates for all subjects are available in the linked table here .

Figure 12 shows that for level 7 postgraduates, MBA graduates had the largest proportional increase in earnings, from £55,500 in 2014/15 to £70,400 in 2020/21 (27.0% increase). Excluding Celtic studies (which had a low number of graduates), Veterinary sciences and Nursing and midwifery were the two level 7 postgraduate subjects that saw a decrease in earnings, from £32,700 to £31,000 (5.0% decrease) for Veterinary sciences and from £36,800 to £35,400 (3.9% decrease) for Nursing and midwifery.

Looking at real term earnings, the decrease between 2014/15 and 2020/21 earnings for Veterinary sciences and Nursing and midwifery level 7 postgraduates was greater in real terms. Veterinary sciences saw a 13.7% decrease in real terms and Nursing and midwifery saw a 12.7% decrease. Real term earnings also decreased for Sport and exercise sciences postgraduates, by 5.7%. See the linked table here for real term earnings of all level 7 postgraduate subjects.

Median earnings for level 7 postgraduates are substantially higher than first degree graduates in some subjects. For example, level 7 Business and management postgraduate earnings were £44,500, £14,800 higher than first degree graduate earnings (£29,800), five years after graduation. 

Despite earnings for level 7 postgraduates being higher in most subject areas, there are a small number of subjects where first degree graduates had higher earnings. For example, Medicine and dentistry first degree graduates had median earnings of £52,600 five years after graduation, which was £5,500 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, first degree graduates living in the East Midlands and Yorkshire and The Humber were most likely to be in sustained employment, further study or both at five years after graduation (88.2%). Graduates living in the London region had the lowest proportion in sustained employment, further study or both (84.8%). 

For level 7 postgraduates, those living in the North East had the highest proportion in sustained employment, further study or both at five years after graduation (89.2%). Same as with first degree graduates, level 7 postgraduates living in the London region had the lowest proportion in sustained employment, further study or both (83.1%).

Earnings 

As shown in Figure 14 and 15, first degree graduates and level 7 postgraduates from English providers currently living in London had the highest median earnings five years after graduation (£33,900 and £40,500 respectively). Northern Ireland had lowest earnings for both first degree and level 7 at five years after graduation (£25,100 and £31,800 respectively). Of the English regions, first degree graduates living in the North East or Yorkshire and The Humber had the lowest median earnings (£25,900) and for level 7 postgraduates, those living in the South West, North West or Yorkshire and The Humber had the lowest earnings (£32,500).

Looking at the difference in earnings between male and female graduates by region, Figure 14 shows that:

  • For first degree graduates, those living in the North West had the smallest gender pay gap, with female graduates having median earnings 7.9% lower than male graduates. The English region with the largest gender gap was the South West, with female graduates having earnings 13.8% lower than males. Across all of the UK, graduates living in Wales had the largest gender gap at 14.1%.
  • For level 7 postgraduates, the North East was the region with the smallest gender gap, with female earnings 7.3% lower than males. The English region with largest gender gap for level 7 postgraduates was theSouth East with female earnings 19.5% lower than males. Across all of the UK, level 7 postgraduates living in Scotland had the largest gender gap at 23.0%.

Figure 16 shows the change in median earnings between the 2014/15 and 2020/21 tax years. Of the English regions, for first degree graduates five years after graduation, the largest increase in median earnings was seen for graduates living in London in (£5,100, 17.7%). Earnings of graduates living in the North East showed the smallest increase (£2,900, 12.7%). Across all the tax years from 2014/15 to 2020/21, graduates living in London have had the highest earnings and graduates living in either the North East, North West or Yorkshire and the Humber have had the lowest. The regional pay gap between graduates living in London and the those living in the lowest earning regions was 31.0% in 2020/21, decreasing from a gap of 32.4% in 2019/20 but increasing from a gap of 27.4% in 2014/15.

For level 7 postgraduates, the English region with the largest increase in median earnings between 2014/15 and 2020/21 was also London (£5,800, 16.8%). Earnings of level 7 postgraduates living in the South West or Yorkshire and The Humber had the lowest increase of the English regions (£3,300, 11.3%). Across all the tax years from 2014/15 to 2020/21, level 7 postgraduates living in London have had the highest earnings and postgraduates living in the North West or also in more recent years in the South West or Yorkshire and the Humber have had the lowest earnings. The regional pay gap between graduates living in London and the those living in the lowest earning regions was 22.0% in 2020/21, increasing from a gap of 19.1% in 2019/20 and from a gap of 20.3% in 2014/15.

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 one of the regions with the lowest (North East). Data for all other regions are available in the accompanying Excel tables in ‘All supporting files’ under the ‘Explore data and files’ section above. 

Figure 17 shows that for all subjects earnings were higher for graduates currently living in London compared to those currently living in the North East. The smallest differences were in Veterinary sciences (a difference of just £400, 0.9%), Architecture building and planning (£700, 2.2%) and Medicine and dentistry (£2,200, 4.2%). The largest differences (in percentage terms) were in Mathematical sciences (£15,700, 51.2%), Law (£11,700, 47.1%) and General, applied and forensic sciences (£9,900, 45.8%). 

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 here. Data for level 8 postgraduates by ethnicity is available under ‘Open data’ in the ‘Explore data and files’ section above.

Employment Outcomes

Figure 18 shows that UK graduates from the Indian ethnic group had the highest proportion of graduates in sustained employment, further study or both five years after graduation (88.3%), slightly higher than White graduates (88.1%) which has been the group with the highest proportion in each previous tax year. UK graduates from the Arab ethnic group had the lowest proportion (77.1%). This was driven by the large percentage of graduates from some ethnic groups in the ‘activity not captured’ category. At five years after graduation, 5.3% of graduates from the Indian ethnic group were in ‘activity not captured’, compared to 11.0% of graduates from the Arab ethnic group and 13.6% of graduates from the Chinese ethnic group.

While the Indian ethnic group had the highest proportion in sustained employment, further study or both at five years after graduation, at one year after graduation White graduates continued to be the group with the highest proportion. White graduates were the group with the smallest decrease in proportion between the 2019/20 and 2020/21 tax years, with a decrease of 2.1 percentage points (ppts). All other ethnic groups had a decrease of between 2.7 and 6.3 ppts.

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 (£32,800). For level 7 postgraduates those from the Chinese ethnic group had the highest median earnings five years after graduation (£40,200). 

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 20 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 (87.9% and 87.3% respectively) than the ‘under 21’ age band (86.9%).

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 years after graduation those who were under 21 at the start of their course had the same earnings as those who were ’35 to 44’, and at ten years after graduation those who were under 21 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 £13,500). 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 at five years after graduation increased between the 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 shows that graduates on sandwich courses had the highest percentage in sustained employment, further study or both (88.7%), five years after graduation. Graduates who studied full-time courses had the second highest percentage (87.1%) and graduates who studied part-time courses had the lowest (83.7%), As shown in table 22, this trend was also seen at three and ten years after graduation, though at one year after graduation the difference between the different modes of study was small and graduates who studied full-time courses had the highest percentage in sustained employment, further study or both by a slight amount (86.8%, compared to 86.2% for graduates on sandwich courses and 86.1% for full-time courses). 

Earnings

Figure 2 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, and by 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 18.1% of part-time graduates in the overall cohort starting their course before age 21, compared to 78.7% 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 the percentage in sustained employment, further study or both between three and five years after graduation 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; they were £1,800 (8.8%) lower one year after graduation, £1,800 (7.2%) lower three years after graduation and £2,900 (10.0%) lower five years after graduation. This trend, of a smaller gap in earnings between those eligible for FSM and those not at one and three years after graduation and the largest gap at five years after graduation, has been seen in all previous tax years. The ‘Not known’ category contained a number of pupils from independent schools where data on Free School Meal status was not collected. 

While the gap at five years after graduation has increased on the previous year (from 9.1% in 2019/20 to 10.0% in 2020/21), it has shrunk over the full time period of the 2014/15 to 2020/21 tax years (down from 13.0% in 2014/15). This is a result of the median earnings of graduates eligible for FSM increasing a faster rate than those not eligible. At five years after graduation, median earnings for graduates eligible for FSM increased by 20.0% between 2014/15 and 2020/21 (from £21,900 to £26,300) while earnings for graduates not eligible increased by 15.9% (from £25,200 to £29,200). 

Earnings by FSM eligibility over the 2014/15 to 2020/21 tax years are available in the linked table here.

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 document.

Employment Outcomes

For one, three, five and ten years after graduation, POLAR quintile’s 1 and 2 (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 and tens year after graduation (£15,300 increase) and POLAR quintile 1 graduates the lowest (£10,600 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.

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, 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 generally seen in the higher prior attainment bands while the lower attainment bands saw smaller increases. Excluding those in the ‘Other’ category, those who achieved exactly 360 UCAS points saw the largest percentage increase (43.2%), while those who achieved 1 or 2 A level passes had the smallest increase (25.0%). 

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

Figure 30 shows that first degree graduates whose home region was London (excluding those whose home region is ‘Not known’) had the lowest percentage in sustained employment, further study or both across English regions at five after graduation. The remaining English regions saw relatively small differences. This was also the case at one, three and ten years after graduation, as shown in Table 30, and also the case in each previous tax year.

Earnings

Figure 31 shows that at five years after graduation (excluding the ‘Not known’ category), the highest earning female and highest earning male graduates were both originally from London, followed by the South East. In all English regions male median earnings are higher than female median earnings, and at five years after graduation the East of England had the largest gender pay gap, at 13.2%. 

Figure 32 shows that at one, three, five and ten years after graduation graduates from London were the highest earners and graduates from the South East were the second highest earners (excluding the ‘Not known’ category). Graduates from London also saw the largest increase in median earnings between one and ten years after graduation (an increase of 72.1%), and again the South East was the second highest (at 68.3%). Graduates from the North West had the lowest median earnings one year after graduation with graduates from North East having the lowest median earnings at three, five and ten years after graduation. Graduates from the North East saw the smallest change in median earnings between one and ten years after graduation (51.4%). 

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 (82.4%) are currently living in their original home region (37.8% of which studied in this region and therefore never left, and 44.6% of which studied elsewhere but have returned to their home region one year after graduation). Ten years after graduation, this proportion has reduced to 66.3%. 

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, at three years after graduation the difference was very small (9.9% living in study region compared to 9.8% living elsewhere), and at five and ten years after graduation graduates 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 (28.0% of EU and 62.0% of non-EU first degree graduates are unmatched in the five years after graduation cohort, compared to 0.8% of UK domiciled graduates). 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 and coverage' 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: 41.2%, 40.2% and 42.4% respectively. Level 7 (taught) EU graduates had a comparatively lower proportion of 29.3%. 

Non-EU graduates had a lower proportion of graduates in sustained employment, further study or both compared with EU graduates, corresponding with higher proportions of unmatched graduates. For non-EU first degree graduates this was 14.7%, for level 7 (taught) was 12.0%, Level 7 (research) was 24.3% and level 8 was 26.9%.

The proportion of EU graduates in sustained employment, further study or both, five years after graduation has increased between 2014/15 and 2020/21 tax years across all qualification levels, which can be seen in the linked table here. At five years after graduation, first degree EU graduates saw the largest increase from 32.0% in 2014/15 to 41.2% in 2020/21. 

However, for non-EU graduates there has been a reduction in the proportion of first degree and level 7 (taught) graduates in sustained employment, further study or both in the UK between the 2014/15 and 2020/21 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 12.0% in 2020/21.

Earnings

Figure 35 shows EU graduates had higher median earnings than UK graduates at all qualification levels, five years after graduation. Non-EU first degree graduates had higher median earnings than UK graduates, but non-EU level 7 (taught) and level 8 graduates were only slightly higher and non-EU level 7 (research) graduates had lower earnings than UK graduates. Higher median earnings for EU and non-EU graduates, compared to UK-domiciled graduates, are likely a result of the minimum salary requirements for EU and non-EU workers to obtain UK visas. At five years after graduation:

  • First degree EU graduate earnings were £32,800 and non-EU earnings were £35,400, 13.9% and 22.8% higher than UK graduates (£28,200) respectively.
  • Level 7 (taught) EU graduate earnings were £39,100 and non-EU earnings were £35,400, 11.5% and 1.0% higher than UK earnings (£35,000) respectively. 
  • Level 7 (research) EU graduate earnings were £39,100 and non-EU earnings were £32,800, 5.9 % higher and 10.9% lower than UK earnings (£36,700) respectively.
  • Level 8 EU graduate earnings were £41,600 and non-EU earnings were £41,200, 2.7% and 1.8% higher than UK earnings (£40,500) 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 £27,600 compared with £24,100 for EU graduates and £16,800 for UK graduates. 
  • For level 7 (taught), EU graduates had the widest range in earnings (£31,000) compared to a slightly lower range for non-EU (£30,300) and a much lower range for UK graduates (£20,800). 
  • For level 7 (research), UK graduates had the widest range in earnings (£24,500) while EU and non-EU graduates had similar ranges (£22,100 and £22,300 respectively).
  • For level 8, UK graduates had a wider range in earnings (£21,900) than EU and non-EU graduates (both £19,800).

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 2020/21 tax years, compared with UK and EU domiciled graduates, which can be seen in the linked table here. At five years after graduation: 

  • Non-EU domiciled first degree graduate earnings increased from £28,500 in 2014/15 to £35,400 in 2020/21 (24.2% increase). EU domiciled graduate earnings increased from £28,800 to £32,800 (13.9%) over the same period, with UK domiciled graduates increasing from £25,200 to £28,800 (14.5%).
  • Non-EU domiciled level 7 (taught) graduate earnings increased from £28,800 in 2014/15 to £35,400 in 2020/21 (22.8% increase). EU domiciled graduate earnings increased from £32,500 to £39,100 (20.2%) over the same period, with UK domiciled graduates increasing from £30,700 to £35,000 (14.3%).
  • Non-EU domiciled level 8 graduate earnings increased from £36,500 in 2014/15 to £41,200 in 2020/21 (13.0% increase). EU domiciled graduate earnings increased from £37,200 to £41,600 (11.8%) over the same period, with UK domiciled graduates increasing from £36,500 to £40,500 (11.0%).

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 ‘Results for international graduates’ 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. 

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 graduates earned less or only slightly more than UK domiciled graduates; non-EU level 7 (taught) female graduates and level 8 male graduates earned slightly more than their UK counterparts, with all others earning less.

The largest gender gap in earnings was between level 7 (research) EU domiciled male and female graduates (24.7%). EU domiciled graduates had a larger gender pay gap than UK domiciled graduates at all levels except level 8, where the gender gap of UK domiciled graduates was slightly higher (an 11.9% gender pay gap compared to 11.6% for EU domiciled graduates). 

Non-EU domiciled graduates had the lowest gender pay gaps at all levels except level 8, where the gap was higher than both EU and UK domiciled graduates at 14.6%. For first degree graduates, the gender pay gap for non-EU domiciled graduates was just 4.0%, notably lower than the gap for all other groups. The smaller gender gap for non-EU first degree 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 calculated from the 2020/21 tax year one year after graduation, which is the 2018/19 academic year graduate cohort. These countries were used for subsequent analysis to allow for comparison between the other 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. Lithuania, Poland, Romania and Ireland had low proportions of ‘unmatched’ graduates and high proportions of graduates in sustained employment, further study or both. In contrast, China, Malaysia, Singapore, South Korea and Hong Kong had high proportion of ‘unmatched’ graduates and a low proportion of graduates in sustained employment, further study or both.

For Level 7 graduates, Ireland, Italy and Greece had the smallest proportion of ‘unmatched’ graduates and the highest proportions in sustained employment, further study or both. China, Taiwan (province of China), Saudi Arabia and Thailand all saw large proportions of unmatched graduates, though unlike China, Taiwan and Thailand, Saudi Arabia had a relatively high proportion of graduates in sustained employment, further study or both. Looking at sustained employment and further study separately, this is driven by graduates in further study; Saudi Arabia was the country with the highest proportion of level 7 graduates in further study

Earnings

For the EU countries with the largest first degree graduate populations, there was some variability in median earnings five years after graduation; France had the highest median earnings (£35,000) and Lithuania had the lowest median earnings (£28,500). France had the smallest gender pay gap of all the EU countries, though several non-EU countries had smaller gaps and female graduates from Korea (south) and Spain actually had higher median earnings than male graduates. The largest gender pay gap of the EU countries was Germany, and of the non-EU countries was Singapore.

For the non-EU countries with the largest graduate populations, there was a larger amount of variability in median earnings. Canada had the highest median earnings (£51,800) and Nigeria had the lowest median earnings (£30,700). This difference may in part be influenced by the subject mix of these graduates; the proportion of graduates domiciled in Canada studying Medicine and Dentistry, the subject with the highest median earnings, was significantly higher than the proportion of graduates domiciled in Nigeria.

Looking at the countries with the largest Level 7 graduate populations, there was again variability in median earnings. Graduates from Germany saw the highest median earnings (£43,300) while graduates from Thailand saw the lowest median earnings (£23,400). Level 7 graduates from Vietnam had largest gender pay gap (45.4%) and graduates from China saw the smallest gender pay gap (5.3%).

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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.

Our statistical practice is regulated by the Office for Statistics Regulation (OSR).

OSR sets the standards of trustworthiness, quality and value in the Code of Practice for Statistics that all producers of official statistics should adhere to.

You are welcome to contact us directly with any comments about how we meet these standards. Alternatively, you can contact OSR by emailing regulation@statistics.gov.uk or via the OSR website.

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