Skip to main content

HESA research finds Black graduates are less likely to report being satisfied with their career

Black graduates who enter higher education aged 25 or under are 2.6 percentage points less likely to report being satisfied with their career relative to White graduates in the same age group. For older graduates, the difference was even greater at approximately 9 percentage points.

Following debate on the wider benefits of higher education beyond earnings, HESA researchers studied graduates’ responses to survey questions about career satisfaction. The research looked at how graduates from different ethnic backgrounds responded to these questions and found that Black graduates tended to report a lower level of career satisfaction than White graduates.

The data come from the Longitudinal Destinations of Leavers from Higher Education (LDLHE) surveys conducted in winter 2014/15 and 2016/17, which surveyed graduates approximately three and a half years after they finished their studies (during the 2010/11 and 2012/13 academic years, respectively). This gave a sample of 111,950 UK domiciled graduates. The research controlled for a range of factors correlated with both ethnicity and career satisfaction, including socioeconomic status, subject studied, degree attainment, activities after graduation, periods of unemployment and an individual’s experience of higher education.

Among young graduates (aged 25 or under at the time of starting higher education), Black Caribbean graduates were 7.9 percentage points less likely to report being satisfied with their career than White graduates before controls were applied and 2.6 percentage points less likely after controlling for other factors. Before controls, older Black African graduates (26 or over when beginning their degree) were 14.3 percentage points less likely than White graduates to express career satisfaction, falling to 9.0 percentage points after controls were applied. Younger Indian graduates and older Chinese graduates were slightly more likely than their White counterparts to be satisfied with their careers, after controlling for other factors.

The research was undertaken to provide useful background and context for Higher Education Providers and policy makers working to promote successful outcomes for graduates from all backgrounds.

HESA Econometrician Tej Nathwani who led the research, said:

“This study represents one of the first instances in which HESA have utilised a more disaggregated version of the ethnicity variable in conducting analysis. Where sample size allows, we will continue with this approach in forthcoming research we undertake (for example, using the Graduate Outcomes survey). Collectively, we will use our findings to assess how we can improve our Official Statistics publications, as well as the Graduate Outcomes questionnaire.”

Read the non-technical summary

Download the full research report

Press Release

Press Officer