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Graduate Outcomes statistics show the activities of 2019/20 graduates in 2021

Results of the third annual Graduate Outcomes survey show the activities of graduates 15 months after finishing their higher education course. The majority of survey respondents graduated in summer 2020 as restrictions were easing from the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic and took the survey in Autumn 2021.  

89% of graduates who responded to the 2019/20 survey were in some form of work or further study (up from 88% in the survey of 2018/19 graduates). 6% of graduates were unemployed while 5% were doing another activity such as travelling, caring for someone, or retired. 76% of those in work were in high skilled occupations.

774,715 graduates were eligible to complete the survey, of whom 403,835 (52%) responded.

Among full-time first degree graduates, the percentage in full-time employment increased from 52% in last year’s survey to 54%. The percentage who were unemployed dropped from 9% to 6%.

The median salary of full-time first degree graduates in full-time UK employment 15 months after finishing higher education was £25,000. This was the same for both male and female graduates. Among graduates in high skilled occupations, the median salary was £27,000 for male graduates and £25,000 for female graduates.

86% of survey respondents agreed that their current activity was meaningful, 77% said that it fit with their future plans, and 71% agreed that they were using what they had learned during their studies.

Today’s release includes both high level national figures and more detailed open data. These include breakdowns by higher education provider, subject of study, personal characteristics, and type of employment or further study. These detailed tables were previously published across multiple pages but are now all available via a single list. The Graduate Outcomes user guide provides further information and guidance about the survey and the published data.

Alongside today’s statistics, HESA has published research into the impacts of COVID-19 on the survey and its results. Following a slight dip in graduate employment in the 2018/19 data, this year’s research showed no drastic change in overall outcomes compared to the first year of the survey before the pandemic. However, the research found some differences in the subjective wellbeing reported by graduates who were surveyed under different pandemic circumstances.

Additional research on graduates who took on further study will be published later in June.

About the Graduate Outcomes survey

HESA (Higher Education Statistics Agency) manages the survey on behalf of the UK funding and regulatory bodies. The survey asked graduates what they were doing approximately 15 months after finishing their studies.

Today’s Official Statistics relate to the third year of running the survey which includes anyone who gained a higher education qualification during the 2019/20 academic year. This includes both undergraduate and postgraduate qualifications gained at both higher education providers and further education colleges (except those in Scotland). The survey aimed to contact over 700,000 graduates over four survey periods throughout the year.



  • See Definitions: Graduate Outcomes for full definitions of terms used in the release and explanation of the coverage of statistics.
  • See Graduate Outcomes user guide for guidance on the background, methodology, and available resources for users of the Graduate Outcomes survey.
  • Previous years’ Graduate Outcomes statistics were marked as ‘experimental’ because they were undergoing a period of evaluation and development. HESA has now determined that this process has been successfully completed and today’s releases are no longer labelled as experimental.
  • Changes to the presentation of Graduate Outcomes data and statistics are described in a blog post from March 2022: Positive changes to Graduate Outcomes Official Statistics
  • HESA cannot accept responsibility for any inferences or conclusions derived from the data by third parties.
Press Release

Press Officer