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Dissemination - Key users and uses

One of the principles of the European Statistical System’s Code of Practice states that statistics must meet the needs of users. In order to do this, producers of statistics must understand their users and have procedures in place to assess their likely needs for data.

The primary users of data on the outcomes or destinations of graduates from higher education can be classified at summary level as being from the following interest groups:

  1. Press/journalists (national, local, and specialist publications/websites)
  2. Governments (UK and overseas)
  3. HE providers and sector bodies
  4. Academic researchers
  5. Graduate employers

The general public, prospective and current HE students and their parents, guardians, and advisers, are also users. However, a relatively small proportion of these will seek information from HESA directly. The majority of users in this category will use HESA data in a format that is mediated by one of the interest groups above.

The main observed uses of previous data on destinations of graduates (and therefore likely future uses of data from the Graduate Outcomes survey) can be split into two broad categories:

  1. Market information. In the form of news stories, league tables and rankings; information, advice, and guidance services; and regulatory/performance information for public consumption. The main intended consumers are the public, particularly prospective students, their parents, guardians, and advisers.
  2. Business uses. Expert-led data analysis to support research, advocacy, benchmarking, planning, and operations within HE providers, and to inform national-level research and analysis to support service development and delivery, funding and procurement, governance and regulation, graduate recruitment, and other system-level activities.

These uses call for a certain degree of expertise and understanding on the part of users. The extent to which such expertise is pre-existing among data users will vary, although a majority are likely to have at least some experience of using data and a reasonable grasp of the subject domain described by the Graduate Outcomes survey. This section explains the choices HESA has made in creating and disseminating its survey outputs and describes the advice that HESA will be providing to users, where appropriate, on interpretation of these outputs.

Our main goal is to support interpretation of the data and encourage appropriate and responsible use by a diverse range of communities.

To supplement this, and other, written information, HESA also organises webinars to coincide with the launch of the Graduate Outcomes data. These are intended to offer a summary of key information about the release and offer a degree of interaction unavailable in a written document. These webinars are recorded and made available via the HESA website.

This section of the Survey methodology and the webinars are offered in addition to the standard support arrangements for all HESA data, including a substantial suite of definitional materials and descriptions in the user guide, along with advice by telephone and email from our analysts and statisticians.

Since the launch of the Graduate Outcomes survey, HESA has developed a range of information resources about Graduate Outcomes in order to build understanding and awareness of the distinctive characteristics of the survey and the methodology that has been employed. In addition to a comprehensive user guide to the survey, content includes blogs, insight briefs and news items from key HESA experts as well as guidance on the releases themselves. All of this content is available on the dedicated graduates Open Data page.

We welcome feedback from users on our materials and welcome all suggestions for improvements and refinements. Please email [email protected].

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