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Graduate Outcomes 2019/20: Summary Statistics - Notes

Summary statistics Graduate Outcomes 2019/20


Who produced this release?

This release has been produced by HESA in collaboration with statisticians from the Department for Education, the Office for Students, the Welsh Government, the Scottish Government and the Department for the Economy Northern Ireland. It has been released according to the arrangements approved by the UK Statistics Authority.

Which graduates and HE providers are included?

This release contains information regarding graduates from UK publicly funded higher education institutions, and graduates from privately funded student alternative providers for whom student data is submitted to HESA. In addition, this release includes data for graduates from HE level courses at further education (FE) colleges in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. This release excludes graduates from HE level courses at FE colleges in Scotland and also excludes other alternative providers in the sector. More information on the population of graduates included in the Graduate Outcomes survey is detailed in the coverage of the record. Please be aware that the coverage of providers differs to those used in the HESA student publications.

A notable change in England from 2019/20 was the introduction of the Office for Students’ (OfS) Register and the two types of registration categories available to providers in England; Approved (fee cap) and Approved. Providers in both registration categories are included in the Student and Student alternative records from this year. Further information relating to the OfS Register can be found in section III of the pdf document Securing student success: Regulatory framework for higher education in England (pdf).

This publication excludes data about graduates from Ballet West. This HE provider located in Scotland chose to optionally return data to HESA for a number of years until 2018/19. Please note that data for this provider was included in the 2017/18 Graduate Outcomes data releases previously published by HESA.

What changes have there been to the data this year?

HESA changed its subject coding frame from JACS to HECoS for the 2019/20 academic year, meaning that there is a break in subject coding between the 2017/18 - 2018/19 data and the 2019/20 data. In January 2022, we published an updated analysis showing how patterns of subject coding have changed during the transition when mapped to CAH version 1.3.4 as part of the 2020/21 Student Statistical Bulletin.

Further work is currently planned to assess the suitability of the Common [subject] Aggregation Hierarchy (CAH), our subject mapping system, to enable time series analysis of subject data. Until that work is complete, we have reached the conclusion that we cannot confidently present subject time-series comparisons that span the change in subject coding frames.

As a result, figures, tables and charts containing detail on graduates’ subjects have been limited to 2019/20 data only. Data containing 2017/18 and 2018/19 which utilises the JACS coding frame can be found in the Graduate Outcomes archive.

This release contains data from the participation of local areas (POLAR) classification; a measure of relative HE participation across the UK. Some regions of the UK have traditionally high participation rates, including Scotland and Northern Ireland. Figures in these areas, when viewed in isolation could misrepresent the contribution being made to widening participation. For a number of years, HESA publications have for this reason excluded data for Scotland from POLAR figures (both where the country of HE provider or country of domicile is in Scotland).

In Northern Ireland, the Department for the Economy (Northern Ireland) recommend the use of the Northern Ireland Multiple Deprivation Measure (NIMDM) Quintiles as a more representative measure of educational disadvantage among these students. Although Northern Ireland data has historically been included in POLAR figures published by HESA, recognising the possibility for misrepresentation of this data coupled with the availability of NIMDM as an alternative in some HESA published tables from January 2019, HESA have decided to remove Northern Ireland data from POLAR figures in all publications from January 2022.

Are any changes expected for future releases?

The field CONSTART (01,02 and 03) has been removed from the survey after 2019/20. As such, the breakdown of XACTIVITY regarding unemployment due to start an activity will not be possible using the same methodology.

From the 2020/21 edition of the Graduate Outcomes survey onwards, HESA will no longer be surveying non-European-Union international-domiciled graduates by telephone. Contact with these graduates will be undertaken using email and SMS text messages only. Our approach to surveying non-EU international graduates explains the detail behind this decision and expectations for future response rates which will have an impact on future publications.

Further details on this change and other, less impactful changes to the record next year are available in the revision history.

Has data for earlier years been revised?

This release uses revised data returns (the 'fixed' database) for time series figures. The fixed data return facility provides HE providers with the opportunity to make post-collection amendments to their HESA return. The fixed database remains open for between 6 and 15 months following the closure of the corresponding live data collection and usually becomes available at least 18 months after the original dataset is delivered. Please refer to the definitions below for detail as to which versions have been used to produce this release and the impact of these changes.

Has COVID-19 had any impact on this release?

The 2018/19 Graduate Outcomes survey was sent to graduates who qualified from their higher education course between August 2018 and July 2019. Surveying commenced in December 2019 for the first of four cohorts. Shortly after surveying began for the second cohort, the World Health Organisation declared the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020. This meant that many graduates were completing the survey at various points during the pandemic. The Graduate Outcomes quality report details further information about survey alterations due to the pandemic.

While the first two cohorts of the 2019/20 survey 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.

In 2019/20, The Open University underreported the number of qualifications awarded due to administrative delays as a result of changes to assessment timetabling. There is a reduction of around 8,225 qualifications awarded in the 2019/20 data return in comparison to 2018/19. Most of this drop was seen among part time undergraduate students. The reduction is reflected in a lower population of survey respondents for the Graduate Outcomes survey of an estimated 7,900 responses. These qualifications were returned in the 2020/21 student data, so the 2020/21 Graduate Outcomes population will reflect this.

An insight briefing, The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on Graduate Outcomes 2019/20 provides further detail on analysis undertaken to explore the impact of the pandemic, and the conclusions identified.

How to use the tables and charts

The tables and charts within this release are interactive. There are options immediately above the figures to filter by data field(s) such as by level of qualification or mode of former study. The figures refresh to display the option(s) chosen, updating the data accordingly. The 'Reset filters' link below each figure will clear all selected options.

In the figures, 0, 1, 2 are rounded to 0. All other numbers are rounded up or down to the nearest multiple of 5 in line with the HESA rounding strategy. Percentages are calculated on unrounded data and are rounded to the nearest whole number. This means percentages may not sum exactly to 100%.

It is a criminal offence under Section 171 of the Data Protection Act 2018 for a person knowingly or recklessly to re-identify information that is de-identified personal data without the consent of the controller responsible for de-identifying the personal data.

CSV files

The CSV files contain additional data for other academic years that are not represented in the interactive tables.

How can I get the data in a spreadsheet?

All the data is presented in interactive tables on the HESA website and will not be published in Excel spreadsheets. Below each table you will find a link to download the table as a *.csv.

If you are planning to open the *.csv files in Excel, you must ensure you import the *.csv data, rather than just opening the file directly. This will ensure the data is presented appropriately without corrupt characters appearing. We have published instructions on how to import *.csv files in earlier versions of Excel. If you are using Excel 2016, you should select 'Data' in the top ribbon and then choose 'From Text/csv'. In the options screen, select '65001: Unicode (UTF-8)' in the 'File Origin' box; click 'Edit' and ensure that all columns are formatted as 'Text'.

How to print this release

This release is designed primarily for on screen users. Each section of the release can be printed by hitting Ctrl+P from within a section.

How are Open University students counted?

Graduates who were registered at one of The Open University's (OU) national centres in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland will contribute to the totals of those countries where statistics are shown by country of HE provider. Please note that all non-UK domiciled OU students, and those who study at postgraduate research level, are registered to the OU administrative centre in England.

Where can I find more detail on the outcomes of graduates?

More detailed information about the outcomes of graduates from higher education, including outcomes by HE provider, can be found in our Graduate Outcomes open data repository.


The data presented in this release is based on the 2017/18, 2018/19 and 2019/20 Graduate Outcomes survey and derived by HESA from data collected from all publicly funded HE providers in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, both Approved (fee cap) and Approved HE providers in England, and further education colleges in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Course and student characteristics have been taken from the 2017/18 - 2019/20 HESA Student and Student alternative records for all graduates other than those who graduated from further education colleges in England and Northern Ireland. Characteristics of these graduates have been supplied by the Office for Students (OfS) and Department for the Economy Northern Ireland DfE(NI), respectively.

Graduate Outcomes data was prepared in May and June 2022 using the following versions of the datasets:

  Student Student Alternative Graduate Outcomes Survey Results
Academic year Dataset type Cut Dataset type Cut Dataset type Cut
2017/18 Fixed dataset February 2021 Fixed dataset January 2020 Original dataset May 2020


Original dataset November 2020 Original dataset November 2020 Original dataset March 2021


Original dataset January 2022 Original dataset November 2020 Original dataset March 2022

See definitions for more detail on the Graduate Outcomes data fields and concepts used within this release.

See data intelligence for specific notes about this year's Graduate Outcomes survey data.

HESA cannot accept responsibility for any inferences or conclusions derived from the data by third parties.

Press enquiries should be directed to the Press Office at HESA, 95 Promenade, Cheltenham, GL50 1HZ, +44 (0) 1242 388 513 (option 6), [email protected]. General enquiries about the data contained within this release should be addressed to Luke Perrott, Official Statistics Manager, HESA (at the same address), +44 (0) 1242 388 513 (option 2), [email protected]

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].
Thank you for helping us to improve this publication.


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