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Graduate Outcomes Statistical Releases FAQ

This FAQ relates to the structure and contents of statistical releases on the HESA website. More detail is available in the Graduate Outcomes dissemination policy. If you have a question that is not answered here please email [email protected]

For detailed questions and answers about tables in the releases please see: Graduate Outcomes statistical releases - detailed questions and answers
If you have a question about the data in any release please contact [email protected].
Information about publication dates can be found in Upcoming data releases.

General

What Graduate Outcomes data and statistics will be published?

The Experimental Statistical Bulletin Higher Education Graduate Outcomes Statistics: UK, 2017/18 provides high level findings and characteristics of graduate outcomes at a national level. It provides a useful overview of the survey results and is published alongside an assessment of data quality.

The open data release HE Graduate Outcomes Data is a larger suite of open data tables providing a more detailed view of the data. This will be published in two phases. The first set of tables will include breakdowns by HE provider and further detail on graduates' reflections on their activity.

UK Performance Indicators are statistics which compare universities and colleges against calculated benchmarks. ‘UK Performance Indicators: Graduate outcomes, 2017/18’ was significantly delayed due to the implications of the COVID-19 restrictions. Development work for this release has now recommenced and we are expecting a publication date early in 2021. More detail on this timing will be announced once this has been confirmed.

How do I use and interpret the data?

HESPA (Higher Education Strategic Planners Association) have produced a guide to using and interpreting Graduate Outcomes data:

Download Graduate Outcomes: A Guide to Using and Interpreting the Data

Why are 2017/18 statistics labelled ‘experimental’?

Experimental statistics are official statistics that are defined as newly developed or innovative and undergoing evaluation. They are published with the aim of involving users and stakeholders in the assessment of their suitability and quality. Users should exercise caution when using data from experimental statistics, and evaluate the quality and coverage of any data they intend to use in the context of the intended application to ensure that it is fit for the user’s purpose.

Graduate Outcomes is a new survey conducted differently from previous surveys and producing different information. These new experimental statistics are not comparable with the results of the earlier Destinations of Leavers from Higher Education (DLHE) survey.

Please see this blog post for more details: ‘Why Graduate Outcomes statistics are experimental’

How were the statistical outputs designed?

The design and content of the Statistical Bulletin and open data release were informed by an informal consultation with representative sector organisations and public authorities. The intention of these outputs is to make the survey data as useful and accessible as possible. Please see this blog post for more details: ‘How to publish Graduate Outcomes data?

If you have comments or suggestions to improve the statistical outputs, please use the feedback buttons in the right hand menu of any Bulletin or open data page.

Where can I find definitions and explanations for tables and filters?

Definitions: Graduate Outcomes gives definitions for each data field used in table titles, filters, and column and row headings.

Industrial and occupational classifications shows the codes and groupings for industries and occupations used in tables showing the activities of working graduates.

What is the Quality report for?

The Quality report is a broad assessment of the quality dimensions of the Graduate Outcomes data and provides information on any known general or specific quality issues.

Known quality issues with specific data items are highlighted in notes under tables, where relevant. It is important to read and understand these notes so that you can engage with the data in an informed and considered way.

Why is there no time series of Graduate Outcomes data?

Graduate Outcomes is a new survey for 2017/18 graduates conducted differently from previous surveys and producing different information. These new experimental statistics are not comparable with the results of the earlier Destinations of Leavers form Higher Education (DLHE) survey.

Please see this blog post for more details: Don't mistake Graduate Outcomes for DLHE

Future years’ survey results will be published alongside this year’s results to build up a time series.

Statistical Bulletin

What is a Statistical Bulletin?

Statistical Bulletins provide high level findings of a data stream at a national level. They provide a useful overview of the data on a particular subject. These are official statistics and include a summary assessment of data quality. HESA produces Statistical Bulletins for its Student, Staff and Graduate Outcomes data collections: Statistical bulletins and first releases

How is the Statistical Bulletin formatted?

The key headline results of the Graduate Outcomes survey are published as charts on the summary page.

Other pages of the Bulletin are arranged by theme, with data presented in interactive Google tables and charts. The source data for each figure can be downloaded in CSV format to view in Microsoft Excel or other statistical software. Download data is provided as rounded data to preserve the confidentiality of survey responses (see Rounding and suppression to anonymise statistics).

Important information about specific tables is given in notes under the table, and general information is provided in the Notes page. It is essential that users read and understand these notes as they provide vital contextual information about the data.

The design and content of the bulletin was informed by consultation with representative sector organisations and public authorities to make the survey data as useful and accessible as possible. Please see this blog post for more details: ‘How to publish Graduate Outcomes data?

Why is there no HE provider level data in the Bulletin?

The Statistical Bulletin provides a national level overview of the data. HE provider level data is included in the larger open data release published a few days after the Bulletin.

Where can I get more detailed data?

The Statistical Bulletin provides an overview of the survey results. More detailed breakdowns of results are included in the larger open data release published a few days after the Bulletin.

If you need a data breakdown that is not included in the open data release you can request a Tailored Dataset from Jisc. See Other Graduate Outcomes dissemination products and services below.

Where can I get help in understanding the data?

Please see the Definitions and Notes which provide detailed explanations of each data item that make up the columns, rows and filters for each table.

Further supporting information on the open data homepage for graduates gives context and background to the Graduate Outcomes survey and the statistics produced from it.

On 18 June we provided a webinar for data users that outlined the main findings of the survey and a walk-through of the Statistical Bulletin. The recorded webinar and a list of detailed questions and answers about the data are now published at Graduate Outcomes statistical releases - detailed questions and answers.

If you have questions about the published statistics that are not answered by the supporting material please contact [email protected] or [email protected].

Open data release

When will the open data be released?

Production work on the open data release HE Graduate Outcomes Data continues to be affected by technological constraints and the ongoing challenges of remote working caused by the pandemic. As a result, HESA has taken the decision to divide the open data release into two tranches to ensure we can be confident in the content and functionality of the release. The first was published on 23 June with a second expected on Thursday 9 July.

The first tranche will be published on Tuesday 23 June and include detailed breakdowns by HE provider and further detail on graduates' reflections on their activities.

The second tranche will include further detail and breakdowns of survey results linked to student data. A confirmed release date for the second phase will be published soon.

What is in the open data release?

The open data release ‘HE Graduate Outcomes Data’ is a large suite of open data tables providing detailed views of the data.

The release covers seven pages of interactive Google tables and charts on different themes within the survey results.

At the top of each table you’ll find filters which you can use to restrict the table to particular populations (e.g. only show postgraduate leavers or Scottish HE providers).

Tables 1 to 8 and 18 show survey results broken down by HE provider. Further HE provider level data will be published as UK Performance Indicators in Autumn 2020 (see Measuring performance below).

How do I download the data and use it?

Under each table are links where you can Download table or Download source data.

The Download table link provides a CSV version of the data table you have selected using the filters. This will normally open in Microsoft Excel.

The Download source data link provides a CSV file containing all the data available for building the Google table, including breakdown for all the available filters.

For some tables the source data is a very large CSV file which may be too big to open in Microsoft Excel directly (over 1,048,576 rows). Other options for opening very large CSV files include using the Data > Get & Transform Data > From Text/CSV process in Excel, or opening the file using different statistical software.

How can I get even more detail?

If you need a data breakdown that is not included in the open data release you can request a Tailored Dataset from Jisc. See Other Graduate Outcomes dissemination products and services below.

Where can I get help in understanding the data?

Please see the Definitions and Notes which provide detailed explanations of each data item that make up the columns, rows and filters for each table.

Further supporting information on the open data homepage for graduates gives context and background to the Graduate Outcomes survey and the statistics produced from it.

If you have questions about the published statistics that are not answered by the supporting material please contact [email protected] or [email protected].

UK Performance Indicators

Introduction - UK Performance Indicators

Since HESA has provided the final 17/18 provider survey data at the end of March 2020, we’ve received a number of questions about how key performance measures and indicators about graduate outcomes will be defined, to support internal engagement with the data and the survey itself.

We recognise the desire for clarity but many of these measures have yet to be defined and so we are unable to provide further details on their derivation at this time. We provide responses below to some of the common questions we are receiving about performance measures.

Who determines graduate outcomes performance measures?

The UK HE sector will be familiar with a range of measures and indicators that have been used for some time and were previously derived using DLHE data. Some of these measures were owned or defined by HESA, such as the former employment indicator that formed part of the UK Performance Indicators suite. Others were not, such as those used in the Teaching Excellence and Student Outcomes Framework (TEF), Unistats (now Discover Uni) and the many measures used in university league tables and guides (including concepts of ‘positive’ and ‘negative’ destinations).

When will you provide more detail on what the new UK Performance Indicator will include?

UK Performance Indicators provide statistics for each UK HE provider for comparison against a benchmark. Developing new indicators for a new survey is a complex task. The Indicators must be clear and meaningful to users, fair to HE providers, and statistically rigourous. 

HESA will be leading on development of the new UK Performance Indicators on Graduate Outcomes but the timetable for this work was significantly delayed due to the implications of the COVID-19 restrictions. Development work for this release has now recommenced and we are expecting a publication date early in 2021. More detail on this timing will be announced once this has been confirmed.

How will positive and negative destinations/outcomes be defined?

Some of the key measures that the sector recognised previously in DLHE were not HESA measures. These included the determination of ‘positive’ or ‘negative’ destinations – these were defined by league table producers. HESA will not be defining these measures for Graduate Outcomes, nor will the design of our statistical publications be influenced by them. It is entirely understandable that providers will want to know how these will be defined, but this is not something on which HESA can advise. We would recommend that any such queries are directed to the league table producers, perhaps via their ‘review groups’ consisting of provider representatives.

HESA is intending to engage with league table producers to ensure they understand the Graduate Outcomes survey data and the key differences from DLHE but we will not be advising them on how to construct their tables or any constituent measures.

What about the ‘percentage in highly skilled employment' metric?

HESA will be publishing numbers of graduates in highly skilled employment. To do this, we expect to use SOC groups 1, 2 and 3 to define ‘highly-skilled’. However, we are not currently planning to publish a performance metric on the percentage in highly skilled employment.

The first major use of such a metric will probably be in the Discover Uni website (formerly Unistats) and the OfS are leading the work to define this. This will involve a process of undertaking analysis of the Graduate Outcomes data, testing candidate definitions for the metric and consulting with relevant groups. The OfS are best placed to answer any queries about the timeline for this work or likely definition of the metric.

What data will league table providers have access to and when?

League table compilers will have access to the open data and statistical bulletin when they are published. They will not have pre-release access to any HESA statistical publications - this is strictly controlled under secondary legislation and is essentially limited to Ministers, Senior Officials and their advisors.

The league table compilers typically make requests for bespoke data sets, rather than using published data. These are now provided by Jisc as a processor for HESA, under terms determined by HESA. For example, these terms specify that no releases of Graduate Outcomes bespoke data can be made by Jisc prior to publication of HESA’s statistical bulletin.

All bespoke requests made by league table producers are also subject to Provider Preview. This means that copies of the data are made available to HE providers two weeks prior to being made available to the league table producer. Through this mechanism providers are given advance notice of data requested for this purpose and have an opportunity to provide any further contextual information to enable the league table producer to understand and use their data appropriately.

Using the statistics in external provider communications

When will the embargo be lifted on the use of the statistics externally?

Upon release of the Statistical Bulletin on 18 June at 09.30, the embargo on sharing this data outside of your provider expires. Please do refer to the guidance note on use of final provider survey data for further guidance on how the data can be used.

Following expiry of the embargo, how can the statistics and final provider survey results data be used?

Please refer to the guidance note on use of final provider survey data for further guidance on how the data can be used. This includes compliance with the Collection Notice, data subjects’ rights, free text box data and more.

How do providers attribute their use of survey response data?

Please ensure that whenever you use, reproduce or reference any survey response data you include an attribution and caveat on behalf of HESA in the form below:

“Contains HESA Data: Copyright Higher Education Statistics Agency Limited 2020. 
The Higher Education Statistics Agency Limited cannot accept responsibility for any inferences or conclusions derived by third parties from its data.”

Where the format of reproduction does not lend itself to the use of the full attribution clause and caveat (for example, on social media and visual display screens), the following shorter version is acceptable:

“Contains HESA Data © HESA 2020 (www.hesa.ac.uk)".

Other Graduate Outcomes dissemination products and services

When will this data be available in Heidi Plus?

HESA data analytics services are now delivered by Jisc. Heidi Plus is a web-based business intelligence platform providing a range of HESA datasets, with the ability to perform sector benchmarking and analyse trends over time.

Jisc released Graduate Outcomes data into Heidi Plus on 13 July 2020 and users were notified by email.

Read more about Heidi Plus on the Jisc website.

How can I request a Tailored Dataset?

HESA data analytics services are now delivered by Jisc. Graduate Outcomes data will be available for data requests after the Statistical Bulletin has been published.

Read more about Tailored Datasets on the Jisc website.