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Graduate Outcomes: a new way of working

Graduate Outcomes

The shift to Graduate Outcomes marks a significant change in the data collected on the destinations and outcomes of graduates. However, it also signals a significant change in the ways of working for providers. Whilst providers will no longer have the burden of carrying out the survey themselves, there is still a requirement for providers to collect and return high quality, comprehensive contact details for graduates, 15 months after they have left their provider, something that is likely to rely on much closer working between careers services and planners, as well as alumni services and student record officers. The approach to this will vary across providers: here three providers set out what action they’re taking.

University of Stirling

At Stirling, we take pride in providing education with a purpose. Our approach is demonstrated through our determination to connect, innovate and transform, as exemplified through our collaborative working between professional services and faculties.

The Graduate Outcomes survey has provided us with the catalyst to extend the connected, partnership approach across the University

The importance placed on employability in the University’s Strategic Plan requires that there is shared ownership and understanding of the opportunities, risks and goals for graduate employability and the Graduate Outcomes survey.

The Careers and Employability Service and Policy and Planning lead a cross-institutional Graduate Outcomes working group to build a strong partnership to implement the survey. The working group brings together expertise from professional services and faculties, including careers, planning, alumni, marketing, academic staff and information services, harnessing knowledge and strengths from across the University. This recognises that the Graduate Outcomes survey will have multifaceted uses and impacts on pedagogy, employability programmes, league table performance, and student enterprise activity, amongst other areas.

The working group created an implementation plan that set out the University’s response to the introduction of the Graduate Outcomes survey and identified proactive opportunities for development. The plan sets a clear expectation for teams to work together to ensure a smooth and successful implementation. The multidisciplinary team approach enables us to question and challenge each other and supports innovation and transformation in our approach to graduate employability.

The introduction of the Graduate Outcomes survey has provided us with the catalyst to extend this connected, partnership approach across the University, with the aim of delivering even greater support for student success.

University of Bristol

Currently inhabiting the top floor of the University of Bristol’s Senate House are our Planning and Business Intelligence team. Masters of combining institutional datasets, this six-strong team coordinates the collation and reporting of our strategic performance indicators (SPIs) – giving the institution oversight of progress made against our priorities.

Our Careers Service has invested in increased management information resources and has an ambition to highlight the importance of Graduate Outcomes across our institution. As a result, we have benefitted enormously from working collaboratively with the Planning and Business Intelligence team – they have been our friends in (literally) a high place!

Our Careers Service has invested in increased management information resources and has an ambition to highlight the importance of Graduate Outcomes across our institution

Looking back at our historic data soon turned to looking forward, and we began forecasting our likely scores before the league tables are published, using data collected from DLHE survey immediately after its successful submission to HESA. This insight has been instrumental in establishing the credibility of this metric, and in creating trust in the DLHE data among Careers Contacts across our University.

As our shared thoughts now turn to the next iteration of TEF and the Graduate Outcomes survey, the catch ups over coffee continue. As more becomes known about the final question set and data output, we are building our views on what should be reported – with a plan that we will still share a meaningful measure that is understood and celebrated across our institution.

The alternative provider approach

At IHE we are aware that most independent higher education providers are only just completing their first round of Destination of Leavers of Higher Education (DLHE) Surveys, which means that, for many, the move to Graduate Outcomes may not be at the forefront of their minds. However, some providers are seeing the transition to the new survey as a positive change by developing forward-looking systems to capture alumni data and measure graduate success in their own context.  

New College of the Humanities

New College of the Humanities are collecting student contact data as part of an integrated programme which includes careers support and a survey that captures graduate aspirations. Completed with all final year students as part of a structured activity early in their last year, graduating students are given information on the survey including what happens with their information. Using this approach students have the chance to ask questions and give permission to share their data with HESA. They also complete a short questionnaire on their employability experience and future aspirations. This data will be linked to the Graduate Outcomes responses to help better support students in developing vital skills and experience.

SAE Institute

The SAE Institute is developing their alumni links through both social media and an alumni support offer to better maintain a connection with graduates after they finish. This will help them keep contact information up-to-date during the 15-month period between graduation and when they will be contacted to complete the survey. They are also conducting a survey of existing alumni, to find out what they were doing 15 months to 2 years after graduation and beyond. This includes questions on what challenges alumni faced post-graduation and suggestions for changes which would help current students. As independent providers will not have access to the extensive LEO data that public providers have, SAE hope this survey will give them an idea of how their courses hold value over time.

Preparations for Graduate Outcomes

How are you preparing for Graduate Outcomes? Providers need to be strategically considering how these changes are going to be managed and how the links are going to be made between the relevant departments to maintain and manage the contact details.

HESA is holding a conference on 13 & 14 June, with guest speakers from AGCAS and HESPA to facilitate debate and discussion about providers role in preparing for Graduate Outcomes.

For more information on Graduate Outcomes please visit our Graduate Outcomes project page.



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