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Historical context

Paper records of structured data on employment destinations are still in existence from the 19th century at some HEPs. In the 1990s, HEPs and funders agreed to bring together previous disparate approaches to data collection into a single national framework, managed by HESA.

The DLHE survey was a population survey of leavers from HE and was conducted in two stages:

Early survey

Full details of the collection approaches for the DLHE and LDLHE can be found in the relevant coding manuals in HESA’s coding manual archive.

The first stage, or Early Survey, was a population-level survey, which aimed to find out what leavers were doing six months after they qualified from their HE course.

The HESA DLHE record has been collected from 1994/95 onwards from constituent HEPs in the devolved administrations of the United Kingdom and, prior to 2002/03, was known as the First Destinations Supplement (with slightly different coverage). The DLHE record collected data on the personal characteristics of leavers, the details of their current employment and the courses they completed, in respect of all successful leavers of the reporting HEP six months after their completion of study. The data submitted in the record was obtained through a survey instrument, centrally defined by HESA and locally managed by HEPs. HESA treated this as an administrative data source and quality assured the data in a similar way to other administrative data and business survey data it collects.

Longitudinal survey

The second stage, or Longitudinal Survey (LDLHE), was a follow-up sample survey that aimed to find out what leavers were doing a further three years on.

The LDLHE was conducted on a biennial basis, from the academic year 2002/3 to 2012/13. It was a centrally managed stratified sample survey of graduates, coordinated and planned by HESA and managed and run by a contractor (IFF Research).


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