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Key principles of Graduate Outcomes

Graduate Outcomes is the new model for the collection of graduate destinations data. This model allows us to capture rich and robust data, and ensures the information we collect reflects recent changes in the HE sector and in the graduate labour market.

The survey design

We have developed a survey that gathers insightful and comprehensive information about graduate outcomes.

New features

In addition to familiar questions from our current destinations survey, the Graduate Outcomes survey asks new questions to provide a richer picture of the diversity of graduate outcomes. These new ‘graduate voice’ measures capture three areas:

  • How meaningful or important they feel their activity to be
  • Whether they are using the skills they gained from their qualification in their current activity
  • How they are progressing towards their future goals.

The Graduate Outcomes survey also allows us to gather deeper insights into graduates pursuing non-traditional career paths, such as those developing creative portfolios or setting up a business.

Core and opt-in questions

The survey includes a core bank of questions as well questions that HE providers can set. There are two supplementary questions types:

  • Opt-in question banks approved (via the Graduate Outcomes steering group).

We have developed a methodology which allows HE providers to remain close to their graduate outcomes data while also ensuring the data we gather is perceived as objectively impartial and of a high standard. We are meeting this need through our model of ‘open centralisation’.

Open centralisation means the survey is administered centrally, with HE providers having near real-time access to dashboards containing survey data and a significant stake in the survey's governance through the Graduate Outcomes steering group.

Contact methods and survey timing

Graduates are surveyed by telephone and / or online approximately 15 months after completing their studies. This is a significant change from the DLHE survey, which contacts graduates after six months. 15 months has been chosen as it gives graduates a meaningful opportunity to progress in their post-graduation activities, while still being close enough to the point of completing studies that high response rates should be achievable. Learn more about survey timings and contact methods.

Survey administration

Our model of open centralisation means that the Graduates Outcomes survey is administered in a central survey operation overseen by HESA. This operation is responsible for contacting graduates, quality checking responses, completing additional coding and returning the data. The steering group will monitor the performance of the Graduate Outcomes survey.

HE providers are required to maintain and supply comprehensive and accurate contact details for their graduates to HESA.

As part of our approach, we have appointed a number of third-party suppliers. These suppliers play a critical role in the overall delivery of the survey, and the selection process we have completed has been appropriately robust.


The Graduate Outcomes survey is governed by a steering group. This group implements and maintains robust governance procedures to steer the development of Graduate Outcomes and monitor its effectiveness.

The steering group is made up of representatives from HESA, the funding councils, HE providers, and other sector bodies in order to reflect the diversity of the UK HE sector. The steering group’s role is to advise HESA through the implementation phase of the Graduate Outcomes survey, and into business as usual.

Linked data

Currently linked data is unable to be utilised for Graduate Outcomes in year 4 as further work is required in regard to aligning the survey study questions with the student records administrative data capture. An assessment of the study data was undertaken in the summer (2022), and highlighted challenges and made recommendations for study data in the survey.

This linked data is likely to include:

  • Study data from the HESA Student record

Data outputs and supply

We are committed to making available timely, high quality and impactful data about graduate outcomes.

Data for HE providers

A key feature of the open centralisation model is that we make data available to HE providers via a near real-time stream of raw survey responses.

Public data outputs and uses

We will also produce the following outputs:

  • A National Statistics statistical first release
  • UK Performance Indicators on employment of leavers
  • A complete publication of survey responses 
  • Experimental statistics presenting the new measures of graduate outcomes.

Information will be made available in Heidi Plus, and via the bespoke data and analytics services provided by Jisc.

We anticipate this data will be put to a number of high-profile uses, as the Destinations of Leavers data has. This is likely to include league tables, the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF), policy documents, and media commentary. We will work to increase the profile of the survey and the new 'graduate voice' measures to heighten understanding and application of the data.