This report presents findings from the Destinations of Leavers from Higher Education (DLHE) Longitudinal Survey conducted during winter 2012/13, a bi-annual survey that was first conducted for the cohort of leavers from 2002/03. The survey was carried out among the cohort of students who completed a higher education course at a higher education institution in the UK in 2008/09. The aim of the survey was to collect information on the activities of UK and EU domiciled leavers who completed a Higher Education course in 2008/09, approximately 3.5 years after leaving higher education.
The DLHE survey is a census of individuals who have completed higher education courses in the UK. This is carried out approximately six months after the courses end and is referred to as the Early Survey. This is carried out by the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA), the central source for the collection and dissemination of statistics about publicly funded higher education in the UK.
The Longitudinal Survey, by contrast, is not a census survey but is instead based on a sample of the students who responded to the corresponding Early Survey. Leavers who completed an Early Survey questionnaire are invited to take part in a follow-up survey 3.5 years after they qualified. Of the 354,730 leavers who responded to the Early Survey in 2008/09, 80,835 leavers were selected from across all institutions over-sampling some groups of leavers in order to deliberately skew the survey. More detail of the groups over-sampled are given in the definitions section. The rationale for the over-sampling was to ensure that the Longitudinal Survey would have sufficient numbers of graduates in key sub-groups to allow for separate statistical analyses of these groups. This cohort was known as Sample A and 33,640 responses were received. In addition 192,745 of the remaining 273,890 graduates for whom an email address was available were contacted (Sample B) resulting in a further 28,565 responses to the survey. As in previous surveys Sample A and Sample B have been combined for analysis purposes. The total number of responses is therefore 62,205, giving an overall response rate of 21.7% of all those with contact details. Of these 10 leavers had replied to the survey but the responses were not sufficiently complete in order to be counted as valid and have been excluded from all further analysis. The survey asked a wide range of questions about the activities leavers were undertaking on 26 November 2012. Further information about the sample design and survey methodology are provided in the definitions section.
Report structure and conventions
Throughout the report, references are made to tables; this series of Excel tables can be downloaded individually from the links within this introduction or as an entire set from the contents page.
Throughout the report 2008/09 refers to the cohort who qualified from higher education in 2008/09, took part in the Early DLHE Survey six months later and then answered questions about their activities on 26 November 2012 as part of the Longitudinal Survey.
Certain groups of students were oversampled to ensure sufficient numbers for meaningful onward analysis. To account for the oversampling, all responses have been weighted and these weights have been used to create the data in this report. More details on the weights and sampling criteria can be found in the definitions document.
Base numbers shown in the tables and charts represent weighted populations of leavers who answered particular questions in the survey, hence these may differ between charts and tables. Base numbers have been rounded to the nearest multiple of 5.
Percentages have been calculated on weighted data, but have been suppressed (and shown as ‘..’ in tabulations) if the unweighted underlying population is between 0 and 52 inclusive. Percentages in charts and tables are rounded to one decimal place, therefore percentages may not sum to exactly 100%.
Chart 1 below illustrates the trends in the main activities of leavers 3.5 years after leaving HE collected in the past four Longitudinal Surveys (sourced from Table 1). The percentage of leavers working (either full-time paid work including self-employed, part-time paid work, voluntary work or unpaid work) at the survey date has increased slightly from 80.8% for 2006/07 leavers to 81.4% for 2008/09. The 2008/09 percentage is still not as high as the 2004/05 percentage of 82.8%. This time series should not be analysed without consideration to the economic climate during the reporting period of the Longitudinal Surveys.
The proportion of leavers assumed to be unemployed has decreased slightly from 3.6% in 2006/07 to 3.4% in 2008/09. The percentage of leavers engaged in further study has gradually increased throughout the years. The activity ‘Creating a portfolio’ (developing a professional portfolio or creative practice with a view to starting a business/becoming freelance) was added to the questionnaire in 2006/07. In 2006/07, 0.4% of leavers indicated this was their main activity increasing to 0.8% of leavers in 2008/09. In all charts leavers ‘Creating a portfolio’ are grouped in ‘All other’ along with leavers ‘Not available for employment’ and ‘Other’.
Charts 2a and 2b (sourced from Table 1) provide a more complete split of leavers’ main activity and compare the responses of UK domiciled and other EU domiciled leavers. UK domiciled leavers were more likely to be employed part-time or in voluntary/unpaid work (9.9% of UK leavers compared to 5.5% of EU leavers) but less likely to be engaged in further study (6.7% of UK leavers compared to 11.5% of EU leavers). Table 1 provides a more detailed breakdown of activities by level of qualification obtained in 2008/09.
Many institutions in the UK belong to institution 'mission groups' which share some similar characteristics. Due to the sample sizes of the Longitudinal Survey, response numbers are often too small to be analysed by institution therefore institution mission groups are presented instead. Chart 3 (sourced from Table 2) compares the main activities of UK domiciled leavers by the mission group of the institution they attended in 2008/09. The percentages engaged in work were broadly similar across the whole sector, whereas the percentage engaged in further study was much higher for those who had studied at a Russell Group (11.7%) or 1994 Group institution (7.0%). Comparisons between mission groups should be interpreted with care due to differences in student populations and the overall characteristics of institutions in each group. Table 2 provides more of an in depth breakdown of these figures by domicile and level of qualification. It also shows the differences in activities of leavers by the region of the institution they attended. Among UK domiciled leavers, those who studied in the West Midlands and East Midlands were more likely to be in full-time paid work (75.5% and 75.3% respectively) than those from other regions.
Differences in the main activities of leavers were apparent when analysed by other characteristics as illustrated in Table 3a. For all leavers responding there was a higher percentage of male leavers in full-time paid work (75.0%) compared to female leavers (69.7%), however female leavers were less likely to be unemployed, 2.8% compared to 4.2% of male leavers. Those who studied part-time were more likely to be in part-time work (12.4%) than those who studied full-time (7.2%). Other undergraduate leavers had the lowest proportion of leavers in full-time paid work (69.0%) but the highest percentage of leavers in part-time paid work (13.4%). First degree leavers were the most likely to be engaged in further study (8.3%).
Activities of UK domiciled leavers are provided by level of qualification, mode of study and age group in Table 3b, by level of qualification, mode of study and ethnicity in Table 3c, by level of qualification, mode of study and disability in Table 3d and by mode of study, gender and class of first degree in Table 4.
Chart 4 illustrates the activities of UK domiciled leavers by the subject area of the qualification they obtained in 2008/09 (sourced from Table 6). Leavers who studied Education were most likely to be working at the survey date with 89.4% in work. Medicine & dentistry leavers were the least likely to be unemployed (1.2%). The highest percentage of leavers who were engaged in further study were those who studied Physical sciences (17.9%) followed by Biological sciences (17.4%). Further detail of activities by subject area and level of qualification are provided in Table 6 which shows that the subject area with the highest percentage of leavers indicating they were creating a portfolio were those who studied Creative arts & design (3.5%).
Chart 5 compares the activities of UK domiciled leavers on 26 November 2012 with the activity they were doing at the Early Survey (sourced from Table 5). Across all activities at the Early Survey stage, the majority of leavers were in full-time paid employment 3 years later. Over three-quarters (82.1%) of those who were in full-time paid work at the Early Survey were also in full-time work on 26 November 2012. 61.8% of those who were assumed to be unemployed at the Early Survey were in full-time paid work on 26 November 2012. Of those leavers in part-time or voluntary work at the Early Survey, 23.9% were still in such work 3 years later.
This section focuses on UK domiciled leavers who were employed (including those who were working and studying) on 26 November 2012. Table 7a and Table 7b provide detailed breakdowns of the Standard Industrial Classifications (SIC) of employed leavers by their subject and level of qualification obtained in 2008/09. Over a quarter, 25.5%, of all full-time leavers and 29.2% of all part-time leavers in employment were employed in Education, while a further 18.8% of full-time and 26.4% of part-time leavers were working in the Human health and social work activities. As one might anticipate, the industries that leavers were employed in varied by subject area with the majority of leavers in certain subjects working in industries related to their qualification. 89.7% of employed full-time Medicine & dentistry leavers and 78.9% of employed full-time leavers from Subjects allied to medicine were working in the Human health and social work activities. Similarly 88.4% of employed full-time Education leavers were working in Education.
Table 8 provides a similar breakdown of these leavers by their Standard Occupational Classification. 82.0% of UK domiciled leavers in employment were in ‘Professional’ occupations comprising 'Managers, directors and senior officials', 'Professional occupations' and 'Associate professional and technical occupations'. These proportions vary by the subject and level of qualification obtained in 2008/09. Of employed postgraduate leavers, 92.9% were in ‘Professional’ occupations compared to 78.9% of first degree leavers and 79.2% of other undergraduate leavers.
Table 9 provides a breakdown of Standard Industrial Classification and Standard Occupational Classification. The percentage of leavers in 'Professional' occupations varied by industry with 91.2% of Professional, scientific and technical leavers and 35.2% of Accommodation and food service activities leavers in 'Professional' occupations.
Chart 6 compares leavers Standard Industrial Classification at the Early Survey with their Standard Industrial Classification at the Longitudinal Survey (sourced from Table 10). 84.2% of leavers who were in Education at the Early Survey stayed in Education and 82.5% of leavers in Human health and social work activities stayed in this classification. However, only 16.6% Administrative and support service activities leavers stayed within Administrative and support service activities.
Key for Chart 6 above:
|A||Agriculture, forestry and fishing|
|B||Mining and quarrying|
|D||Electricity, gas, steam and air conditioning supply|
|E||Water supply, sewerage, waste management and remediation activities|
|G||Wholesale and retail trade; repair of motor vehicles and motorcycles|
|H||Transport and storage|
|I||Accommodation and food service activities|
|J||Information and communication|
|K||Financial and insurance activities|
|L||Real estate activities|
|M||Professional, scientific and technical activities|
|N||Administrative and support service activities|
|O||Public administration and defence; compulsory social security|
|Q||Human health and social work activities|
|R||Arts, entertainment and recreation|
|S||Other service activities|
Chart 7 above displays the salary distribution of UK domiciled full-time first degree leavers who were in full-time paid employment in the UK (sourced from Table 11a). The median salary for UK domiciled full-time first degree female leavers was £23,500 which had increased from £20,000 at the Early Survey stage. It should be noted that median salaries have been calculated to the nearest £500. UK domiciled full-time first degree male leavers experienced a similar increase from a median salary of £20,000 at the Early Survey stage to £25,000 reported on 26 November 2012. Further detailed salary figures can be viewed in Table 11a. Table 11b shows similar salary information disaggregated by subject and level of qualification obtained in 2008/09. Across all first degree leavers the largest median salary was observed for UK domiciled leavers in full-time employment who had studied Medicine & dentistry (£40,000) which had increased from £30,000 at the Early Survey stage, a 33.3% increase.
Table 11c provides salary growth information for UK domiciled leavers in full-time paid UK employment in both surveys. At all levels of qualification, the most common salary increase was between £2,500 and £5,000 (21.9% of postgraduate, 20.8% of first degree and 30.6% of other undergraduate). In contrast to this, 3.7% of postgraduate leavers, 4.3% of first degree leavers and 5.2% of other undergraduate leavers experienced a salary decrease between £0 and £2,500.
Linking leavers’ responses to both their HESA Student record data and their Early Survey activities enables analysis of the movement of leavers across UK regions. Chart 8, Chart 9 and Chart 10 show the region of employment patterns for UK domiciled leavers in UK employment by region of domicile on entering HE, region of institution and region of employment at the Early Survey (sourced from Table 12, Table 13, and Table 14).
The majority of leavers who were employed at the Early survey and were also working 3 years later remained in the same region. From other areas of England the greatest migration of working leavers was into London (8.9%).
All leavers in employment on 26 November 2012 were asked to consider how important they felt certain factors about the course they undertook were to their employer when gaining the job they were doing on the census date. Table 15 breaks down the responses to these questions by level of qualification and subject area. Generally, leavers indicated that the type of qualification they gained and the subject studied were either a formal requirement or were important to their employer. 37.6% of UK domiciled leavers in employment indicated that the type of qualification they gained was a formal requirement and a further 27.6% indicated that it was important. Similarly 34.7% indicated that the subject they studied was a formal requirement and a further 26.9% that it was important. Leavers also indicated that evidence of skills and competencies was more important than the class or grade of qualification (36.2% formal requirement and 47.0% important versus 13.5% and 31.2% respectively). Chart 11 below shows leavers’ responses to the question about how important their subject of study was to their employer by the subject they studied. Leavers who studied more vocationally-orientated subjects were much more likely to indicate that the subject was a formal requirement when gaining their job than those who studied subjects with less specific career pathways.
12.3% of all leavers who responded to the survey were engaged in either further study or work and further study on 26 November 2012. Chart 12 below shows the level of qualification that first degree leavers were aiming for (sourced from Table 16). Over a third of first degree leavers were aiming for a higher degree by research (33.4%).
When analysed by various factors, differences are apparent in the qualification aims of leavers who were engaged in further study which can be seen in Table 16. The majority of postgraduate taught leavers (60.3%) were aiming for a higher degree mainly by research and 32.1% of other undergraduate leavers were aiming for a first degree. There were also differences by region of institution attended in 2008/09 and institution group. Institutions in Northern Ireland have the highest percentage of leavers aiming for a professional qualification (12.4%) whereas institutions in Wales and Scotland had the highest proportions of leavers going on to study for a higher degree mainly by research (38.3% and 40.5%, respectively).
Leavers from Russell Group institutions were most likely to be studying for a higher degree mainly by research (53.2%). The largest percentage of leavers going on to study for professional qualifications was observed amongst those who had studied at University Alliance institutions (11.9%).
For all those leavers in either further study or work and further study, Chart 13 above (sourced from Table 17) compares the subject area of the qualification obtained by UK domiciled leavers in 2008/09 with the subject area that they were studying on 26 November 2012. Nearly two-thirds (65.3%) of Architecture, building & planning leavers who were engaged in further study were studying in the same subject area 3 years later. It should be noted that it is a requirement to complete a further qualification before leavers become qualified architects. Less than a third (30.7%) of leavers from Agriculture & related subjects were studying this same subject area. The most common subject area for further study was Education (12.7%) which attracted varying proportions from subject areas other than Education, most notably 26.4% of Creative arts & design leavers were studying Education as were 15.5% of Mass communications & documentation leavers.
All leavers were asked about any further qualifications that they had obtained since the qualification they gained in 2008/09. 22,680 leavers indicated that they had gone on to achieve another qualification. Chart 14 below summarises these responses by the level of the qualifications obtained (sourced from Table 18).
The majority of undergraduate leavers who had gone on to obtain another qualification had gained a qualification at a higher academic level than the one they obtained in 2008/09. Chart 14 also highlights that around a fifth of leavers who obtained a first degree or higher then went on to gain some type of professional qualification. Table 18 provides more detail by level of qualification, gender and institution group and region.
The final section of the questionnaire asked all leavers a set of questions about their experience of higher education and their satisfaction with their career to date. Chart 15 below summarises leavers’ responses to a question about how likely it was that they would change aspects of the course that they completed in 2008/09 (sourced from Table 19). Leavers were asked to consider the subject of study, the institution, the qualification type and whether they would chose to do something other than study or research.
In general leavers felt that it was ‘Not very likely’ or ‘Not likely at all’ that they would change the course that they completed in 2008/09. Table 19 provides a more detailed breakdown of these responses by level of qualification, gender, institution group and subject area. The most variation in responses was observed when analysed by subject area.
Chart 16 below (sourced from Table 20 and Table 21) displays the responses to the questions about whether or not leavers were satisfied with their career to date, their views about whether or not their course was good value for money and if their higher education experience prepared them for their career or for being self-employed. Table 20 and Table 21 provide more detail of leavers opinions by level of qualification, gender, subject of qualification and activity on 26 November 2012.
For all questions the most variation in responses was observed across subject areas and activities on the survey date. In general female leavers were slightly more likely to say they were ‘Very satisfied’ with their career to date (38.1%) compared to male leavers (35.6%) although 46.8% of male leavers said they were ‘Fairly satisfied’ compared to 46.1% of female leavers.
© Higher Education Statistics Agency Limited 2013