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Higher Education Leavers Statistics: UK, 2016/17 - Notes

Statistical First Release SFR250

Note: An update to The University of Buckingham’s student data for 2014/15 was processed incorrectly by HESA. This resulted in The University of Buckingham being excluded from the 2014/15 destinations data published in Figures 1, 2, 4 ,7, 8, 9, 11, 14 and 16 of this release. Previous years’ releases, and other years’ data in this release are not affected. The affected tables and charts were updated on 2 August 2018 with corrected data for 2014/15.

Who produced this Statistical First Release?

This SFR has been produced by HESA in collaboration with statisticians from the Department for Education, 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 populations are excluded from this SFR?

Non-EU leavers were added to the target population from 2011/12. There were 142,960 non-EU leavers in the target population in 2016/17, compared with 141,340 in 2015/16. Of those in the 2016/17 non-EU target population, 48,700 responded, an overall response rate of 34% (the same percentage as in 2015/16). Response rates vary across the sector, and within different activities. As a result, there could be bias in the non-EU data, and so the data for these leavers are excluded from the SFR. 

UK and other EU leavers who obtained postgraduate research qualifications from dormant status are also excluded from this SFR as the destination outcomes of these leavers are considered to be materially different in nature to the outcomes of the other postgraduate research leavers included in the survey.


Which HE providers are included?

As with previous years, this release contains information regarding only UK publicly funded higher education institutions plus one alternative provider, The University of Buckingham. In addition, and for the first time, this SFR includes 2016/17 data for leavers from HE level courses at further education (FE) colleges in Wales (of which there are 355 leavers from 2 FE colleges in the DLHE target population). All are fully subscribed members of HESA. This release excludes leavers from HE level courses at FE colleges in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland, and also excludes other alternative providers in the sector. Information for the alternative providers, and summary information on the totality of leavers from HE will be released in July 2018.

Has data for earlier years been revised?

This release uses revised data returns (the 'fixed' database) for the 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 versioning information in the definitions for detail as to which versions have been used to produce this release and the impact of these changes.

Are there any notable changes in the DLHE survey over the timeseries in this SFR?

In 2014/15, the questions asked to ascertain salary information from leavers changed. Whereas previously leavers were asked for their annual salary, from 2014/15 they were able to report their salary in one of a variety of time-frames (e.g. annually, monthly, weekly, hourly). HESA use this information (alongside the leavers' reported number of hours worked) to calculate an annual salary for each leaver. While this was a positive change to the survey, allowing for greater accuracy for leavers who only know their hourly or weekly salary, data quality issues were noticed. Investigations into the 2014/15 - 2016/17 data reveal that some leavers have quite likely reported a salary against an incorrect time-frame. A possible example of this is a leaver reporting a true annual salary of £25,000, yet being paid in monthly blocks and inaccurately reporting this as a monthly salary. HESA would then multiply the £25,000 by 12 to report an incorrect annual salary of £300,000. Instances of these types of inaccuracies are very low, and data investigations reveal the overall impact on average salary within this SFR is low. The decision was therefore taken to include all responses within average salary calculations.


How to use the tables and charts

The tables and charts (labelled as figures) within this SFR are interactive. There are options immediately above the figures to filter by particular data field(s) such as by first year marker or mode of study. The figures react to whichever option is chosen, changing the data accordingly. 

In the figures, 0, 1, 2 are rounded to 0. All other numbers are rounded up or down to the nearest multiple of 5. Percentages are calculated on unrounded data and are rounded to the nearest whole number. This means percentages may not sum exactly to 100%. Salary data is rounded to the nearest £500.


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 SFR is designed primarily for on screen users. Each section of the SFR can be printed by hitting Control P from within a section.


How are Open University students counted?

As in the 2015/16 SFR, enrolments and qualifications 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, those who study at postgraduate research level, and students returned in the Aggregate offshore record, are registered to the OU administrative centre in England.


National Statistics

The United Kingdom Statistics Authority has designated these statistics as National Statistics, in accordance with the Statistics and Registration Service Act 2007 and signifying compliance with the Code of Practice for Official Statistics.

Designation can be broadly interpreted to mean that the statistics:

  • Meet identified user needs
  • Are well explained and readily accessible
  • Are produced according to sound methods, and
  • Are managed impartially and objectively in the public interest.

Once statistics have been designated as National Statistics it is a statutory requirement that the Code of Practice shall continue to be observed.


Where can I find more detail on the destinations of leavers?

Our Destination of Leavers from Higher Education 2016/17 publication providing more detailed information about the destinations of leavers from higher education will be published by HESA on 19 July 2018.


What is the future of Destinations data?

We have conducted a major review of the data we collect about the destinations and outcomes of graduates. This has led to the formulation of the new Graduate Outcomes survey which will provide more comprehensive data that reflects recent changes in the HE sector and the graduate labour market. The first Graduate Outcomes data is due to be published in spring 2020.

Our existing destinations data remains a vital source for understanding higher education outcomes. We will be publishing further destinations data this year (including our DLHE publication), but anticipate that this will be the final year of DLHE outputs.



The data presented in this SFR is based on the 2016/17 HESA Destinations of Leavers and Student records. The statistics in this SFR are derived by HESA from data collected from all publicly funded HE providers in the UK (including The Open University), plus the University of Buckingham, which is privately funded and further education colleges in Wales. The figures therefore exclude HE leavers from any other UK further education colleges and from other private and independent UK HE providers.

Destinations of Leavers data was prepared in June 2018 using the following versions of the datasets:

  • 2012/13 Fixed Student dataset, September 2016 version
  • 2012/13 Original Destinations of Leavers dataset, May 2014 version
  • 2013/14 Fixed Student dataset, February 2018 version
  • 2013/14 Fixed Destinations of Leavers dataset, March 2016 version
  • 2014/15 Fixed Student dataset, March 2018 version
  • 2014/15 Fixed Destinations of Leavers dataset, January 2017 version
  • 2015/16 Original Student dataset, November 2016 version
  • 2015/16 Fixed Destinations of Leavers dataset, February 2018 version
  • 2016/17 Original Student dataset, November 2017 version
  • 2016/17 Original Destinations of Leavers dataset, May 2018 version

Destinations of Leavers definitions

For data intelligence, please see the following web page.


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 211 120, [email protected]. General enquiries about the data contained within this SFR should be addressed to Rebecca Mantle, Information Services Manager, HESA (at the same address), +44 (0) 1242 211 133, [email protected].

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National Statistic


28 June 2018, 9:30



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HESA, 95 Promenade, Cheltenham, GL50 1HZ

Press enquiries

+44 (0) 1242 211 120

Public enquiries

+44 (0) 1242 211 133


Rebecca Mantle


[email protected]

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Department for the Economy (Northern Ireland)