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Graduate Outcomes 2019/20: Summary Statistics - Summary

Summary statistics Graduate Outcomes 2019/20


Figure 1 - Graduate outcomes by activity

Academic years 2017/18 to 2019/20

  • The survey of 2019/20 graduates revealed that 80% of respondents were in employment or unpaid work, including 10% who were engaged in both employment and further study.
  • There was a 1 percentage point increase in the proportion of 2019/20 graduates in full-time employment compared with 2018/19 graduates.
  • Unemployment among 2019/20 graduates (including those due to start work or study) accounted for 6% of responses. This was down 1 percentage point from 2018/19.
  • From the 2018/19 to the 2019/20 graduate cohort there was a 1 percentage point decrease (from 11% to 10%) in respondents engaged in employment and further study.

Figure 2 - Median salaries of full-time graduates who obtained first degree qualifications and entered full-time paid employment in the UK

Academic year 2019/20

  • The pay gap between male and female full-time first degree graduates in full-time paid employment in the UK at the time of the 2019/20 survey was greatest among those in the high skilled group. 
  • For both males and females, there was a larger gap between the median pay of medium and high skilled workers compared with the gap between pay of low and medium skilled workers.
  • When considering all skill levels combined both males and females have a median salary of £25,000.

About this release

This release is the annual first release of Graduate Outcomes survey data and covers UK higher education providers (HEPs) and further education colleges (FECs) in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Data is collected approximately 15 months after HE course completion.

Graduate Outcomes is a survey, which first commenced with the 2017/18 academic year's graduate population. It is conducted differently from previous surveys and produces different information. These new statistics are not comparable with the results of the earlier Destinations of Leavers from Higher Education (DLHE) survey.

While the first two cohorts of 2019/20 finished their higher education courses before the start of the pandemic, the Covid-19 outbreak was declared a pandemic on 11 March 2020, as the third cohort of the 2019/20 survey year was finishing their studies; the final cohort completed their higher education courses between May and July 2020, during the gradual easing of the first national lockdown. Conversely, the first two cohorts were surveyed between December 2020 and May 2021, while Covid restrictions of one sort or another were in place across the UK. The third cohort was surveyed as restrictions were gradually phased out, while the final cohort was surveyed against a backdrop of rising case numbers but few legal restrictions on activity. In our investigation of the impacts of the pandemic on the graduate experience, we saw little overall change since the start of the pandemic, and those differences which we have seen have been less marked between 2018/19 and 2019/20 than they were between 2017/18 and 2019/20. An insight briefing provides further detail on analysis undertaken to explore the impact of the pandemic, and the conclusions identified.

Accompanying this release is more detailed information about the outcomes of graduates from higher education, including outcomes by HE provider, this can be found in our Graduate Outcomes open data repository. A suite of supporting information for the Graduate Outcomes publications can be found in the form of a user guide. This contains the Graduate Outcomes quality report providing the most comprehensive assessment currently available on the quality of the data, including on uses and users of the data. A history and background to the survey and information about the survey design is available in the methodology statement and further detail on approaches and standards for dissemination is available in the dissemination section of the methodology statement.

On 21 June 2022, HESA will also be releasing an insight piece looking at the similarities and differences when comparing graduate responses to the survey on further/interim study with administrative data submitted by providers on this matter. The research forms part of the work we are carrying out to continuously evaluate and understand how we can improve the Graduate Outcomes survey.

Please see the definitions for further explanations of the terms used in this release.

Figure 3 - Response rates to the Graduate Outcomes survey by domicile and mode of former study

Academic years 2017/18 to 2019/20

  • There were 374,875 graduates who responded to the 2019/20 Graduate Outcomes survey from the target population of 774,715, a rate of 48% complete responses. When including graduates who partially completed the survey, this response rate rises to 52%, increasing the number of usable responses to 403,835.
  • In 2019/20, the response rate (including survey partial completed response rate) of part-time graduates was higher than those that studied full-time at 54% and 52% respectively.
  • Survey completed response rates of both Other European Union and Non-European Union domiciled graduates have shown year on year increases from 46% and 29% in 2017/18 to 51% and 33% in 2019/20 respectively.

Data used in this release is based on both complete and partially completed responses.

What are partial responses?

Where graduates answer the minimum number of core questions relevant to their circumstances, this is known as a complete response. Sometimes graduates don’t answer enough core questions but they may still start the survey. Where they do not answer a sufficient number of core questions but they do at least answer the first two questions, specifying their current activities and most important activity, this is known as a partially completed response. Further detail on this can be found in the Dissemination section of the Methodology statement.

Release date

16 June 2022, 9:30



Release frequency



Children, education and skills

Issued by

HESA, 95 Promenade, Cheltenham, GL50 1HZ

Press enquiries

+44 (0) 1242 388 513 (option 6), [email protected]

Public enquiries

+44 (0) 1242 388 513 (option 2), [email protected]


Luke Perrott

Pre-release access

View pre-release access list for this release

Graduate Outcomes open data repository

View detailed information by provider

User guide

View the Graduate Outcomes user guide


Please email questions or comments to [email protected].
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