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Unwrapping Graduate Outcomes: Presenting the operational design

Graduate Outcomes

Graduate Outcomes survey

Following two years of review, design, and consultation, we are today publishing the operational design for Graduate Outcomes, our new national survey that will capture vital information on the activities and views of graduates.

The operational design publication includes a logo and suite of brand materials, a first complete release of the data specification for the collection of contact details, as well as details about the roles and responsibilities of providers.

What is Graduate Outcomes?

Graduates Outcomes is a new survey designed to capture rich, robust and innovative data about graduates, using a future-proof and efficient methodology.

Graduates Outcomes is a new survey designed to capture rich, robust and innovative data about graduates, using a future-proof and efficient methodology. It is the outcome of a major two-year review into the data collected about graduate destinations and replaces the existing Destinations of Leavers from Higher Education (DLHE) surveys. You can find out more about the new survey in our short overview video.

We have been developing a rigorous and comprehensive specification for the delivery of the survey.

Since the end of the review in July this year, we have been developing a rigorous and comprehensive specification for the delivery of the survey. This has been a collaborative effort involving a range of specialisms within HESA (legal, financial, data management, software development, data policy, data analysts) and engagement from the Graduate Outcomes steering group that contains representatives from across the sector. This specification is now being reviewed ahead of us commencing procurement for a survey contractor in the new year.

How will the Graduate Outcomes survey be promoted?

The Graduate Outcomes survey is one of the largest social surveys in the UK, and requires a strong brand identity. We have been working with Orca, a design agency based in Bristol, to develop a logo and visual identity for the survey.

The Graduate Outcomes survey logo reflects three core concepts: progress, voice and data.

We are delighted with the logo that Orca delivered – which reflects three core concepts: progress, voice and data. The logo – in multiple designs and in both Welsh and English – is available now for providers to use to raise awareness of the survey among students and graduates.

To complement the logo, we have also produced several promotional templates. Following significant engagement with the sector, we have developed templates that can be used as is, or which can be co-branded and personalised by universities. We are publishing these templates in .ai, .pdf and .jpeg format; this gives all providers the opportunity to easily personalise the templates, regardless of the software they have access to or their design expertise.

One of the core responsibilities of the survey contractor will be to design, deliver and evaluate a national communications plan to raise awareness of the survey. However, providers supplementing this activity by raising the profile with graduates is likely to result in the best engagement from graduates.

How will Graduate Outcomes be administered?

We are today offering detailed and confirmed guidance on how Graduate Outcomes will be administered

Over the last six months, we have undertaken detailed specification work which has allowed us to offer detailed and confirmed guidance on how Graduate Outcomes will be administered. Today we are publishing:

  1. Version 1.0 of the coding manual for the collection of contact details
    This provides the confirmed specification for what information we need providers to return. It also includes information about the fields that HESA will supply as part of the population file to allow for the successful delivery of the survey.
  2. A detailed overview of the roles and responsibilities of providers
    This sets out in detail what responsibilities sit with providers to support the delivery of Graduate Outcomes. It includes information on: the collection and return of contact details; the analysis and use of data; and the promotion of the survey.
  3. A range of supporting materials
    These include FAQs, further data protection guidance, an implementation timetable, and a glossary of key terms.

What can providers do?

Today’s release offers materials that will support providers with their on-going preparations for the Graduate Outcomes survey. The nature of these preparations will vary from provider to provider. However, we would recommend that the delivery of Graduate Outcomes is treated as a cross-departmental challenge, and that providers work across professional services teams and academic schools to understand and adapt for the implications of the survey. We have published an overview video and accompanying slidedeck to support internal briefing and profile building.

In addition to enabling further planning and preparation, today’s release also allows providers to begin promoting the survey to current students and graduates.

In addition to enabling further planning and preparation, today’s release also allows providers to begin promoting the survey to current students and graduates.

It is also imperative that providers continue to collect and maintain accurate, up-to-date contact details for their graduates. The first cohort to be involved in Graduate Outcomes will have completed their studies from August 2017 – best practice suggests there is value in contacting this group in the new year so that they can update their details.

The largest survey cohort comprises graduates completing their studies next June. For many of these students, their last teaching contact will be in March and this offers an ideal opportunity to build their awareness of Graduate Outcomes and remind them to update their contact details.

What’s next for HESA?

While today’s release is a significant milestone, there remains substantial work for us to do to deliver Graduate Outcomes. This includes:

  • Cognitive testing of the survey questions
    Testing will be carried out to ensure a robust and adaptable design that delivers meaningful and consistent data.
  • Defining the financial implications of Graduate Outcomes
    We are aware that further clarification is required around the financial aspects of Graduate Outcomes. The full detail of these is still being clarified, but we have refined the financial principles. More information will follow in the new year.
  • Commencing procurement
    The model of open centralisation requires the procurement of a survey contractor to carry out the survey. This process will begin early next year.

For updates on the project, and to share queries and best practice with colleagues, join the Graduate Outcomes Jiscmail group.

HESA unwraps #GraduateOutcomes - including a new logo, data specification and wealth of operational resources .

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Rachel Hewitt

Rachel Hewitt

Data Policy & Governance Manager