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Key principles of the NewDLHE model

We have designed a new model for the collection of graduate outcomes data. This model allows us to capture rich and robust data, and will ensure the information we collect reflects recent changes in the HE sector and in the graduate labour market.

The principles of the model are informing our implementation of the Graduate Outcomes record. You can view the full model for collecting graduate outcomes data which we consulted on in Spring 2017. We present here the key principles underpinning the model:

The survey design

We have developed a survey which will gather 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 will also allow us to gather deeper insights into graduates pursuing non-traditional career paths, such as those developing creative portfolios or setting up a business.

Optional question banks

The survey will include a core bank of questions as well as optional banks of questions that HE providers can opt in to. There will be two types of optional questions banks:

  • Optional question banks approved (via the Graduate Outcomes steering group). Questions asked online will be part of the core service agreement for HE providers; questions asked on the telephone would incur additional costs
  • Bespoke question sets created by HE providers. These can only be asked at the end of the survey, and will be distinguished from the core question set. HE providers would discuss set up for the delivery of these questions directly with the survey contractor

We needed to develop a methodology which allowed 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 will be administered centrally, with HE providers having near real-time access to responses and a significant stake in the survey's governance.

Contact methods and survey timing

Graduates will be surveyed by telephone or online approximately 15 months after completing their studies. This is a significant change from the current 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.

Survey administration

Our model of open centralisation means that the Graduates Outcomes survey will be administered by a central survey contractor who will be appointed and managed by HESA. This contractor will be responsible for contacting graduates, quality checking responses, completing additional coding and returning the data to HESA. The steering group will monitor the survey contractor’s performance.

HE providers will be required to maintain and supply comprehensive and accurate contact details for their graduates to this contractor. We anticipate exceeding a response rate of 70% for the survey to enable publishing of data at course level.


The Graduate Outcomes survey will be governed by a steering group. This group will implement and maintain robust governance procedures to steer the development of Graduate Outcomes and monitor its effectiveness.

The steering group will be 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.

We will manage the relationship with the survey contractor, and the steering group will ensure the contractor adheres to key performance indicators. We will retain responsibility for setting the quality assurance rules to which the data must adhere. The steering group will also have a role in the procurement process for the Graduate Outcomes survey.

Linked data

We will use linked study and salary data to build up a broader picture of graduate outcomes and realise further efficiencies.

This linked data will include:

  • Study data from the HESA Student record
  • Salary data from the Longitudinal Education Outcomes (LEO) dataset.

Student record data will be provided alongside the first publication of Graduate Outcomes survey responses in January 2020; LEO data will follow in around May 2020.

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 will 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 and linked data
  • Experimental statistics presenting the new measures of graduate outcomes.

Information will be made available in Heidi Plus, and via our bespoke data and analysis services.

We anticipate this data will be put to a number of high-profile uses, as the current Destinations of Leavers data is. 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.