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

Statistical Bulletin Experimental SB260


Experimental statistics


Who produced this Statistical Bulletin?

This bulletin 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.

What is the coverage of data in this release?

There are some changes to the coverage of data in this year's release. In the previous issue of this publication, Higher Education Graduate Outcomes Statistics: UK, 2017/18 we reported data about a target population that excluded any graduates whom had been reported to us by their provider as being seriously ill or deceased. Any graduate reported as being seriously ill or deceased to us by other means (e.g. by a friend or family member) was included in the target population. This year, to achieve consistency we are including all graduates reported as seriously ill or deceased within the total target population, regardless of the source of information. This may mean that some response rates relating to the 2017/18 academic year differ slightly within this year's release compared with previously published data.

Another coverage change applied this year is the exclusion of 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 has been included in Graduate Outcomes data previously published by HESA.

What changes have there been to the data this year?

In addition to the coverage changes mentioned above, changes have also been made this year to the treatment of some data following user feedback.

Firstly, in relation to the treatment of self-reported salary data within the survey, changes have been made this year in the choice of salary outliers to be excluded from published statistics. Salary bands have also been revised. Full details on these changes can be seen in the data analysis section of the Graduate Outcomes methodology statement.

Another change this year relates to the use of UK employment regional location statistics in published outputs for the first time. Previously published data did not include any information on this topic due to known quality issues arising from the handling of some free text data. This year, work has been undertaken to clean up this free text so that quality concerns become reduced to an acceptable level. More information about the processing of this data is available in the Graduate Outcomes quality report.

Finally, Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) data displayed this year, including the groupings of high/medium/low skilled jobs are based upon the SOC2020 framework. Graduate Outcomes data published prior to 2021 used the earlier SOC2010 framework. More details on the differences between the two frameworks in the context of Graduate Outcomes 2017/18 data can be seen in our ad-hoc release: Graduate Outcomes SOC 2020 update: UK, 2017/18.

Are any changes expected for future releases?

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 are proposing to remove Northern Ireland data from POLAR figures in all publications from January 2022. If you wish to provide feedback on this proposal, please email [email protected].

Which graduates and HE providers are included?

This release contains information regarding graduates from UK publicly funded higher education institutions, and graduates from both designated and non-designated courses at 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.

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.

The quality of data used in this release is not thought to be adversely affected by the pandemic. Results and trends emerging from the data this year do however reflect the circumstances under which it was collected. In particular, small changes around the activities of graduates this year can be noticed (see figure 1). Further details about the analysis we have undertaken to explore the impact of the pandemic on the 2018/19 Graduate Outcomes dataset is provided in an insight briefing: The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on Graduate Outcomes 2018/19

How to use the tables and charts

The tables and charts (labelled as figures) within this bulletin 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.

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 bulletin

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

Why is this publication "Experimental Statistics"?

The Code of Practice for Statistics defines Experimental Statistics as: "A subset of newly developed or innovative official statistics undergoing evaluation." They are published in order to involve users and stakeholders in the assessment of their suitability and quality at an early stage.

Users should exercise caution when using data from experimental statistics and evaluate the quality and coverage of any data they intend to use in the context of the intended application to ensure that it is fit for their purpose. We wish to continue to engage with users to ensure that our statistical products meet user needs. Contact our Official Statistics team ([email protected] or (0)1242 388 513 [option 2]) with feedback and suggestions.

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?

Our Higher Education Graduate Outcomes Data 2018/19 publication providing more detailed information about the outcomes of graduates from higher education will be published by HESA on 27 July 2021.


The data presented in this bulletin is based on the 2017/18 and 2018/19 Graduate Outcomes survey. The statistics in this bulletin are derived by HESA from data collected from all publicly funded HE providers in the UK (including The Open University), alternative providers that submit student data to HESA and further education colleges in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Course and student characteristics have been taken from the 2017/18 and 2018/19 HESA Student and Alternative Provider Student 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 July 2021 using the following versions of the datasets:

  Student Alternative student Graduate Outcomes Survey Results
Academic year Dataset type Cut Dataset type Cut Dataset type Cut
2017/18 Fixed dataset January 2020 Fixed dataset January 2020 Original dataset May 2020
2018/19 Original dataset November 2020 Original dataset November 2020 Original dataset March 2021

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 bulletin should be addressed to Rebecca Mantle, Head of Official Statistics, HESA (at the same address), +44 (0) 1242 388 513 (option 2), [email protected]

Release date

20 July 2021, 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]


Rebecca Mantle

Pre-release access

View pre-release access list for this release

Does this data release meet your needs?

Please email questions or comments to [email protected].
Thank you for helping us to improve this publication.


Department for Education

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Department for the Economy (Northern Ireland)