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Definitions - Destinations of Leavers Longitudinal survey 2008/09


The Destinations of Leavers from Higher Education (DLHE) Survey is carried out by the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA), the central source for the collection and dissemination of statistics about publicly funded higher education in the UK. There are two stages to the survey. The first stage is a census of individuals who have completed higher education courses in the UK. This stage is carried out approximately six months after the course end and is referred to as the Early Survey.

The second stage is a follow-up survey that looks at the destinations of leavers up to 3.5 years after they qualified. This stage is referred to as the Longitudinal Survey. The Longitudinal Survey, by contrast, is not a census survey but is instead based on a sample of the students who responded to the corresponding Early Survey.


Sample design

The 2008/09 DLHE Longitudinal Survey involved re-contacting a sample of leavers from the 2008/09 leaving cohort who completed an Early Survey questionnaire and inviting them to complete a follow-up questionnaire. There were 470,940 leavers eligible to take part in the Early Survey in 2008/09, of which 354,730 (75.3%) took part.

The Longitudinal Survey is based on two sub-samples of the 354,730 leavers who responded to the Early Survey in 2008/09. 80,835 leavers were selected from across all institutions over-sampling some groups of leavers in order to deliberately skew the survey. More detail of the groups over-sampled are given below. The rationale for the over-sampling was to ensure that the Longitudinal Survey would have sufficient numbers of graduates in key sub-groups to allow for separate statistical analyses of these groups. This cohort was known as Sample A and 33,640 responses were received. In addition 192,745 of the remaining 273,890 graduates for whom an email address was available were contacted (Sample B) resulting in a further 28,565 responses to the survey. As in previous surveys Sample A and Sample B have been combined for analysis purposes. The total number of responses is therefore 62,205. Of these 10 leavers had replied to the survey but the responses were not sufficiently complete in order to be counted as valid and have been excluded from all further analysis.

Data collection

The data have been collected using a mixture of online and telephone questionnaires. For 2008/09 no postal questionnaires were used although letter invitations were still sent out to leavers with postal addresses. The approach used depended on the contact details provided by the HE institution. The different modes were used sequentially:

  1. All leavers in Sample A with an email address were invited by email to complete an online questionnaire. A week after the initial email, a reminder was sent out with another reminder sent a few days later. A final reminder was sent towards the end of the collection period. The same approach was taken for all leavers in Sample B with an email address.
  2. A new stage was introduced for 2008/09 whereby all graduates in Sample A and B for whom a mobile phone number was held were sent a text message invitation after the second reminder email had been sent if they had not already responded to the survey.
  3. Two weeks after the initial email, contact attempts were made by telephone for leavers in Sample A who had not responded and for whom a telephone number had been provided.
  4. The postal invitations launched in two phases. The first mailing was sent to all leavers in Sample A who held only a postal address and no phone number or email. These were sent out a week after the initial emails. The second phase of the postal survey took place 14 weeks after the initial email with invitations sent to all leavers for whom a postal address was held as well as an email or phone number, but who had not already responded. 

Data collection was undertaken by IFF Research.

Questionnaire coverage

The questionnaire covered the following topics:

  • Main activity on 26 November 2012 (all leavers)
  • Details of current employment (leavers in employment)
  • Details of course and qualification aims (leavers in further study)
  • Other qualifications obtained since 2008/09 (all leavers)
  • Satisfaction with course taken in 2008/09 and career to date (all leavers)
  • Additional questions for those who completed a research degree in 2008/09 (not included in this report).


The HESA Destinations of Leavers from Higher Education (DLHE) target population contains all United Kingdom (UK) and European Union (EU) domiciled students reported to HESA for the reporting period 1 August 2008 to 31 July 2009 as obtaining relevant qualifications and whose study was full-time or part-time (including sandwich students and those writing-up theses). Awards from dormant status are not included in the target population.

Relevant qualifications for inclusion in the DLHE return are postgraduate degrees, postgraduate diplomas and certificates, Postgraduate Certificates in Education (PGCE), first degrees (excludes intercalated degrees), Diplomas of Higher Education (DipHE), Certificates of Higher Education (CertHE), foundation degrees, Higher National Diplomas (HND) or Higher National Certificates (HNC). The population for the DLHE return does not necessarily represent the full cohort graduating during the reporting period; examples of those excluded are professional qualifications (e.g. associate membership or membership of a body such as the Institute of Bankers) and undergraduate diplomas and certificates (other than foundation degrees, HND, DipHE, HNC and CertHE).

The reference dates for this DLHE return were 20 April 2009 (if the leaver obtained the qualification between 1 August 2008 and 31 December 2008) and 11 January 2010 (if the leaver obtained the qualification between 1 January 2009 and 31 July 2009).

The reference date for the 2008/09 DLHE Longitudinal Survey was 26 November 2012.

The reference date for the 2006/07 survey was 29 November 2010. For 2004/05 the reference date was 24 November 2008 and for 2002/03 the reference date was 27 November 2006.

Sample design

Sample A was a cohort of 80,835 leavers selected from across all institutions, but with some groups of leavers over-sampled relative to other groups. The numbers and percentages selected for the sample are given in the table below. Sample B, 273,890 leavers, was made up of any remaining leavers who responded to the Early Survey and an email address was available for them.

Type of leaver Early DLHE respondent Sampled for DLHE longitudinal Proportion
Ethnic group
Black 13590 4600 33.8%
Asian 27455 5400 19.7%
Mixed 7625 5145 67.5%
Other ethnic group 3155 3155 100.0%
Research students
Doctorate and Masters (Research) 7540 7540 100.0%
Over sampling for English institutions
Sandwich - industrial placement 14950 5800 38.8%
Sandwich - year abroad 6745 3375 50.0%
Leavers in receipt of Disabled Students’ Allowance (DSA) 12365  4545 36.8%
Unemployed in DLHE 2006/07 22585 6050 26.8%
Self-employed in DLHE 2006/07 9720  3915 40.3%
Chemistry leavers 2980 2980 100.0%
Physics leavers 2670 2670 100.0%
Mathematics leavers 6125 2400 39.2%
Engineering leavers 14905 4600 30.9%
European language leavers 6430 2780 43.2%
Non-European language leavers 640 640 100.0%
Other* 166435 8320 5.0%
Over sampling for institutions in Wales
Wales domiciled 17360 7220 41.6%
Institutions in Wales 19910 7060 35.4%
Over sampling for institutions in Scotland
Scotland domiciled 27400 7485 27.3%
Institutions in Scotland 31330 8870 28.3%
Over sampling for institutions in Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland domiciled 10775 6495 60.3%
Institutions in Northern Ireland 8150 4900 60.1%
Total 354730 80835 22.8%

Rounding strategy

Due to the provisions of the Data Protection Act 1998 and the Human Rights Act 1998, HESA implements a strategy in published and released tabulations designed to prevent the disclosure of personal information about any individual. These data are derived from the HESA non-statutory populations and may differ slightly from those published by related statutory bodies. This strategy involves rounding all numbers to the nearest multiple of 5. A summary of this strategy is as follows:

  • 0, 1, 2 are rounded to 0
  • All other numbers are rounded to the nearest multiple of 5.

So for example 3 is represented as 5, 22 is represented as 20, 3286 is represented as 3285 while 0, 20, 55, 3510 remain unchanged.

This rounding strategy is also applied to total figures; the consequence of which is that the sum of numbers in each row or column will rarely match the total shown precisely. Note that subject level data calculated by apportionment will also be rounded in accordance with this strategy.

Average values, proportions and FTE values prepared by HESA are not affected by the above strategy, and are calculated on precise raw numbers. However, percentages calculated on populations which contain 52 or fewer individuals are suppressed and represented as '..' as are averages based on populations of 7 or fewer.

Base numbers shown in the tables and charts represent weighted populations and reflect numbers of leavers who answered particular questions in the survey, hence these may differ between charts and tables. Base numbers have been rounded to the nearest multiple of 5.

Percentages have been calculated on weighted data, but have been suppressed (and shown as ‘..’ in tabulations) if the unweighted underlying population is between 0 and 52 inclusive. Percentages in charts and tables are rounded to one decimal place, therefore percentages may not sum to exactly 100%.

Level of qualification obtained

Postgraduate qualifications obtained includes doctorate degrees; masters degrees; other postgraduate qualifications obtained primarily through advanced supervised research; Masters of Business Administration (MBA); pre-registration masters degrees and other taught qualifications at level M leading towards obtaining eligibility to register to practice with a health or social care or veterinary statutory regulatory body; postgraduate bachelors degrees at level M; Postgraduate Certificates in Education or Professional Graduate Diplomas in Education; other taught qualifications at level M including those leading towards registration with the Architects Registration Board (Part 2 qualification).

Higher degree (research) includes doctorate and masters degrees studied primarily through research.

Higher degree (taught) includes doctorate and masters degrees not studied primarily through research.

In analyses where postgraduate level of study is disaggregated into postgraduate research and postgraduate taught, the following groupings are used:

Postgraduate research includes doctorate and masters degrees and postgraduate diplomas or certificates (not PGCE) studied primarily through research.

Postgraduate taught includes doctorate and masters degrees, postgraduate bachelors degrees at level M and postgraduate diplomas or certificates not studied primarily through research, including PGCE (unless shown separately) and professional qualifications.

First degree includes first degrees, first degrees with eligibility to register to practice (doctor/dentist/veterinary surgeon), first degrees with qualified teacher status (QTS)/registration with the General Teaching Council (GTC), enhanced first degrees and first degrees obtained concurrently with diplomas.

Other undergraduate qualifications are foundation degrees and all other higher education qualifications not included above which are within the scope of the relevant qualifications for the DLHE return.

In certain analyses highest qualification achieved and type of qualification are used. These also refer to the levels of qualification as defined above.

Mode of study

The qualification obtained mode of study used in HESA DLHE analyses re-allocates writing-up status student instance awards to their previous mode.

Full-time study includes instances where students are recorded as studying full-time (normally required to attend an institution for periods amounting to at least 24 weeks within the year of study), on thick or thin sandwich courses or on a study-related year out. This includes writing-up status where the mode of study was previously full-time and students changing to dormant status previously full-time.

Part-time study includes instances where students are recorded as studying part-time, or studying full-time on courses lasting less than 24 weeks, on block release or studying during the evenings only. This includes writing-up status where the mode of study was previously part-time, awards given to those on sabbatical and students changing to dormant status previously part-time.

Class of first degree

The classification of a first degree indicates the qualification class obtained. Certain qualifications obtained at first degree level are not subject to classification of award, notably medical and general degrees. These, together with ordinary degrees and aegrotat qualifications, have been included in Unclassified. Third class honours, fourth class honours and pass have been aggregated as Third class/Pass. Lower second and undivided second class honours have been aggregated as Lower second. 


Age is as at 31 July 2009.


Domicile data is supplied to HESA in the form of postcodes (UK, Guernsey, Jersey and the Isle of Man domiciled students) or country codes. Postcodes are mapped to counties, unitary authorities, Government Office Regions and UK countries using the National Statistics Postcode Directory. Countries are mapped to geographical regions, informed by the National Statistics Country Classification 2006 grouping of countries ( Where no data is supplied about the student's domicile, fee eligibility is used to assign to either UK region unknown or Non-European Union unknown.

UK domicile students are those whose normal residence is in the UK, and for the purposes of this publication includes Guernsey, Jersey and the Isle of Man. (Officially, the Crown Dependencies of Guernsey, Jersey and the Isle of Man are not part of the UK or the EU.)

Other European Union (EU) domicile students are those whose normal residence is in countries which were European Union (EU) members as at 1 December of the reporting period.

Subject of study and JACS codes

Specification of JACS

All JACS subject codes consist of a letter followed by three digits, the first of them non-zero (except the generic codes described below). The initial letter identifies the subject group, for example F for Physical Sciences. The initial letter and immediately following digit identify the principal subject, for example F5 Astronomy. F500 is a valid JACS code used where there is no need for a higher level of precision, but subjects can be identified more precisely using a second non-zero digit, for example F520 Space and planetary sciences, and, with even more precision, F521 Space science and F522 Planetary science. Often it is necessary to consider together all the codes, or all the student numbers, falling within a principal subject, and this is done by referring to it using just the first two characters, so F5 refers to all of Astronomy and to total numbers in it, by no means all of which will have code F500. Similarly, F52 refers to the whole of Space and planetary sciences.

In 2007/08 a review of a selection of subject areas resulted in the implementation of a revision of the JACS subject codes, JACS2. The full listing of JACS2 can be found here


Additionally, a procedure of apportionment is used. Under apportionment, each student instance is, where necessary, divided in a way that in broad-brush terms reflects the pattern of a split course. This is analogous to the use of FTE calculations (with a variation for initial teacher training (ITT) students).

From 2007/08, for split courses not involving an ITT component, institutions assign their own percentages based on a broad assessment of the relative contribution of subjects to a course, rather than detailed analysis of the contributions of subjects to individual students' courses of study. It is therefore expected that most institutions will apply the same percentages to all courses and only vary this where there is a substantially different subject split.

For institutions in England, Northern Ireland and Wales the listed standard percentages are recommended, and in Scotland obligatory:

  • Balanced 50% for each of the two subjects
  • Major - Minor 66.7% and 33.3%
  • Triple 34%, 33% and 33%.

The sum of the proportion allocated to each subject studied on a course must equal 100.

ITT students at undergraduate level who also have a specialism subject recorded (typically, secondary ITT students) are apportioned 50% to the Education subject area and the remaining 50% is further apportioned according to the algorithm for non-ITT students. Where no subject other than education is recorded, or where the student is on a PGCE course, apportionment is 100% to the Education subject area.

Subject areas

HESA has defined nineteen subject areas in terms of JACS codes for reporting information broken down by subject to present a useful broad-brush picture. The subject areas do not overlap, and cover the entire range of JACS Principal Subjects. Apart from the need to separate the Mathematical science and Computer science elements of Principal Subject G0 and G9, they are expressed entirely in terms of JACS Principal Subjects, and correspond closely to JACS Subject Groups.

Region of institution

The allocation of an HEI to a geographical region is done by reference to the administrative centre of that institution. There may be students registered at HEIs who are studying in regions other than that of the administrative centre of the institution. HESA allocates HEIs to Government Office Regions as follows: North East, North West, Yorkshire and The Humber, East Midlands, West Midlands, East of England, London, South East, South West, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Although The Open University teaches throughout the UK, its administrative centre is located in South East England and is counted as a wholly English institution, unless shown separately.

Region of employment

This describes the location of the HE leaver's place of work. Data is supplied to HESA in the form of postcodes for employment in the UK or country codes. Postcodes are mapped to England Regions (formerly Government Office Regions) and Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland using the National Statistics Postcode Directory.

The Standard Occupational Classification

In 2011 HESA adopted the SOC2010 Standard Occupational Classification (which replaced SOC2000), for comparability of sector data with other areas of the economy. This coding frame was used for the 2008/09 Longitudinal data. A variant of the SOC2010 was created for the coding of occupational information collected in the DLHE survey.  The classification is termed SOC2010 (DLHE) and details are available from the Downloadable files section of the HESA DLHE coding manual on the (HESA website).

The Standard Industrial Classification

The Standard Industrial Classification of economic activities (SIC) provides a framework for the collection, tabulation, presentation and analysis of data about economic activities. From 2007/08 the aggregations reflect the Standard Industrial Classification economic activity sections as summarised in the UK Standard Industrial Classification of Economic Activities 2007 (SIC 2007).

From 2007/08 the aggregations reflect the Standard Industrial Classification economic activity sections as summarised in the UK Standard Industrial Classification of Economic Activities 2007 (SIC 2007) (pdf) document on the National Statistics website. 

Standard industry codes for economic activity are used to describe the relationship between the inputs and outputs of such activity. In cases where multiple activities take place, classification usually relates to the single most important activity. In the case of DLHE statistics, this will usually be the most important activity undertaken by an employer (or self-employed person). Economic activities are measured by enquiring into the nature of an employer's (or self-employed person's) business.


This describes the HE leaver’s annual salary to the nearest pound before tax. Tables including salary data have been restricted to UK domiciled leavers in full-time paid work only (excluding self-employed) in the UK. Unknown salary and zeros have also been excluded from this data.

Employment circumstance and further study

In the Longitudinal Survey leavers are able to report all the activities they are doing in relation to both employment and study on the survey date and then indicate which activity they considered to be their main activity. A matrix of possible outcomes is constructed. This matrix is used to define the key categories of outcomes such as employed and unemployed.

As leavers can report multiple activities in relation to employment circumstance and further study, it is possible to be involved in either employment only, further study only or employment and further study. Therefore where the terms employment and further study are used, it is important to note that:

  • Employment includes those in employment only, and those in both employment and further study
  • Further study includes those in further study only, and those in both employment and further study.

Matrix of standard categories for publication from Longitudinal DLHE

Employment circumstance Full-time study Part-time study Study mode unknown Not in study
Employed full-time in paid work D D D A
Employed part-time in paid work D D D B
Self-employed/freelance D D D A
Voluntary work/other unpaid work (including internships) D D D C
Employed mode unknown D D D H
Unemployed and looking for employment, further study or training E F F F
Engaged in study or training and not working E E E  
Engaged in study or training AND working as another activity D D D  
Creating a professional portfolio P P P P
Retired G G G G
Maternity leave G G G G
Travelling/break/gap year/time out G G G G
Housewife/homemaker/carer E E E G
Sick (short term) E E E G
Long-term sick E E E G
Other E E E O
Question not answered X X X X


A Full-time paid work
B Part-time paid work
C Voluntary/unpaid work
H Employed mode unknown
D Work and further study
E Further study
P Creating a portfolio
F Assumed to be unemployed
G Not available for employment
O Other
X Explicit Refusal


Work includes those leavers who reported that their main activity was full-time paid work (including self-employed/freelance), part-time paid work, employed with unknown mode, voluntary or unpaid work, and who were not also in study, training or research.

Work and further study includes those who reported that their main activity was either full-time paid work (including self-employed/freelance), part-time paid work, employed with unknown mode, voluntary or unpaid work and they were also in full-time or part-time study, training or research, or that their main activity was full-time or part-time study, training or research and they were also in full-time paid work (including self-employed/freelance), part-time paid work, employed with unknown mode, voluntary or unpaid work.


Assumed to be unemployed includes those students who gave their main activity as unemployed and looking for employment, further study or training.

Further study

Further study includes those who gave their main activity as either in full-time or part-time study, training or research and were not engaged in any employment.

Institution mission group

Due to the sample size of the Longitudinal data it is not possible to provide data shown by institution because response numbers are often too small to be analysed at this level. Instead institution mission groups are used in some tables. These groups are often formed on the basis of common interests, particularly towards research and education provision. The groups used within this report are as per July 2013 and are detailed below. Any mergers which took place between HEIs between 2008/09 and 2011/12, as detailed below, have been applied before the data is grouped. It should be noted that Buckinghamshire New University is a member of both GuildHE and Million+ and has been included in both groups in any tabulations. These figures include an element of double counting and therefore group totals will not sum to the overall sector total. Any institutions not listed below are included in the All Other HEIs group in tables. Comparisons between mission groups should be interpreted with care due to differences in student populations and the overall teaching and research purposes of institutions in each group.

Russell Group

  • The Queen's University of Belfast
  • The University of Birmingham
  • The University of Bristol
  • The University of Cambridge
  • Cardiff University
  • University of Durham
  • The University of Edinburgh*
  • The University of Exeter
  • The University of Glasgow
  • Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine
  • King's College London
  • The University of Leeds
  • The University of Liverpool
  • London School of Economics and Political Science
  • The University of Manchester
  • The University of Newcastle-upon-Tyne
  • The University of Nottingham
  • The University of Oxford
  • Queen Mary and Westfield College
  • The University of Sheffield
  • The University of Southampton
  • University College London
  • The University of Warwick
  • The University of York.

1994 Group

  • Birkbeck College
  • The University of East Anglia
  • The University of Essex
  • Goldsmiths College
  • Institute of Education
  • The University of Lancaster
  • The University of Leicester
  • Loughborough University
  • Royal Holloway and Bedford New College
  • The School of Oriental and African Studies
  • The University of Sussex.


  • University College Birmingham
  • Bishop Grosseteste University College Lincoln
  • The Arts University College at Bournemouth
  • Buckinghamshire New University
  • The University of Chichester
  • University for the Creative Arts
  • University College Falmouth
  • Glyndŵr University
  • Harper Adams University College
  • Leeds Trinity University College
  • The Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts
  • Newman University College
  • Norwich University College of the Arts
  • University College Plymouth St Mark and St John
  • Ravensbourne
  • Rose Bruford College
  • Royal Agricultural College
  • Southampton Solent University
  • St Mary's University College, Belfast
  • St Mary's University College, Twickenham
  • The University of Winchester
  • The University of Worcester
  • Writtle College
  • York St John University.


  • University of Abertay Dundee
  • Anglia Ruskin University
  • Bath Spa University
  • University of Bedfordshire
  • Birmingham City University
  • The University of Bolton
  • Canterbury Christ Church University
  • The University of Central Lancashire
  • University of Cumbria
  • The University of East London
  • Edinburgh Napier University
  • Leeds Metropolitan University
  • London Metropolitan University
  • Middlesex University
  • Staffordshire University
  • The University of Sunderland
  • The University of West London
  • The University of the West of Scotland
  • The University of Wolverhampton.

University Alliance

  • Bournemouth University
  • The University of Bradford
  • Cardiff Metropolitan University
  • Coventry University
  • De Montfort University
  • University of Glamorgan
  • Glasgow Caledonian University
  • The University of Greenwich
  • University of Hertfordshire
  • The University of Huddersfield
  • Kingston University
  • The University of Lincoln
  • Liverpool John Moores University
  • The Manchester Metropolitan University
  • The University of Wales, Newport
  • The University of Northumbria at Newcastle
  • The Nottingham Trent University
  • The Open University
  • Oxford Brookes University
  • The University of Plymouth
  • The University of Portsmouth
  • The University of Salford
  • Sheffield Hallam University
  • Teesside University
  • University of the West of England, Bristol.


The University of Wales Lampeter merged with Trinity University College and subsequently changed its name to University of Wales Trinity Saint David.

Edinburgh College of Art merged with The University of Edinburgh.