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As a producer of official statistics, HESA is under an obligation to demonstrate the quality of its statistical outputs. This obligation is both a formal one, inasmuch as it is specified in Section Q3 of the Code of Practice for Statistics[1], and a more pragmatic one, inasmuch as, by demonstrating the quality of its outputs, we can provide our stakeholders with information which will support them in the use of our statistics.

Although year two of the Graduate Outcomes survey remains badged as experimental statistics, this is a category of official statistics, and the Code of Practice therefore applies just as clearly to this set of experimental statistics as it does to any of our other statistical outputs[2]. We have therefore integrated the principles of the Code of Practice for Statistics into every stage of our work on the Graduate Outcomes survey.

HESA data is used by a wide variety of stakeholders, and their need for high quality data provides us with further motivation for demonstrating the quality of our statistical products. Data from the former Destinations of Leavers from Higher Education (DLHE) survey, the forerunner of the Graduate Outcomes survey, was used not only by HE providers and prospective students, but also by a wide range of policy makers, researchers, and media outlets, and it will be important for Graduate Outcomes to continue to meet the needs of this same varied group of stakeholders.

As part of the review which led to the creation of the Graduate Outcomes survey, HESA conducted a quality assurance self-assessment of DLHE[3]. This self-assessment found that, while some aspects of DLHE achieved the highest level of quality assurance, other aspects did not meet the same standard, and that the survey as a whole therefore did not meet the desired level of quality assurance. The self-assessment concluded with a list of quality assurance recommendations for the successor to DLHE, including:

  • Centralizing the administration of the survey
  • Developing a robust methodological architecture
  • Enhancing HESA’s investigations of quality features and publishing the results of those investigations
  • Gathering feedback from users about the quality of the data.

As well as allowing us to make a more general determination of the quality of the Graduate Outcomes outputs, this report gives us an opportunity to demonstrate the progress HESA has made towards addressing those recommendations, not only in the design and implementation of the new Graduate Outcomes survey, but also during the review of the Graduate Outcomes survey which was initiated after the first year of publication.

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