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Graduate Outcomes Statistical Releases FAQ

This FAQ relates to the structure and contents of statistical releases on the HESA website. If you have a question that is not answered here please email [email protected]

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.

Measuring performance

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 has now been put back to autumn and is largely dependent on how things progress with the COVID-19 measures. The development of this indicator requires the creation of a new sector advisory group. We believe this will be challenging to set up and operate via remote conferencing applications given the technical complexity of the discussions. We will keep this under review and determine an appropriate timeline for the work once we know more about the likely timescale for relaxation of the COVID-19 measures.

Until we undertake the work to design those indicators with the advisory group, HESA is unable to provide any further detail about how the Performance Indicators will be defined.

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.

This page of FAQs will grow over time with questions and answers about the Statistical Bulletin and open data as we approach the release of these publications. At the time of writing, the majority of questions we've received have been about the UK Performance Indicators.