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Higher Education Graduate Outcomes Statistics: UK, 2018/19 - Summary

Statistical Bulletin Experimental SB260


Experimental statistics


Figure 1 - Graduate outcomes by activity

Academic years 2017/18 to 2018/19

  • The survey of 2018/19 graduates revealed that 80% of respondents were in employment or unpaid work, including 11% who were engaged in both employment and further study.
  • There was a 3 percentage point decrease in the proportion of 2018/19 graduates in full-time employment compared with 2017/18 graduates. This drop coincided with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic during which most 2018/19 graduates were surveyed.
  • Unemployment among 2018/19 graduates (including those due to start work or study) accounted for 7% of responses. This was up 2 percentage points on the 2017/18 dataset.
  • From the 2017/18 to the 2018/19 graduate cohort there was a 1 percentage point increase (from 18% to 19%) in respondents engaged in further study including those who were in both employment and 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 2018/19

  • 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 2018/19 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.

About this release

This bulletin is the annual first release of Graduate Outcomes survey data. These experimental statistics cover 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 new survey, which first commenced with the 2017/18 graduate cohort. 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.

Although students who qualified in the 2018/19 academic year graduated prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the majority (all graduates except those in cohort A) were surveyed in the pandemic. Small changes in the survey results this year around the activities of graduates during the pandemic are apparent (see figure 1). However, due to lack of much comparative data, it is unclear as to whether the changes are directly attributable to the pandemic. Further details about the impact of COVID-19 on this release can be seen in the notes to this bulletin. Additionally, an insight briefing provides further detail on analysis undertaken to explore the impact of the pandemic, and the conclusions identified.

Accompanying this bulletin is a suite of supporting information 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.

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 2018/19

  • There were 380,970 graduates who responded to the 2018/19 Graduate Outcomes survey from the target population of 793,445, 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 409,380.
  • Response rates across all domiciles were higher for the 2018/19 survey in comparison to the 2017/18 survey. This was despite most 2018/19 graduates being surveyed during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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

20 July 2021, 9:30



Release frequency



Children, education and skills

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Rebecca Mantle

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