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Recent Graduates of Universities in Scotland now Working in 100 Countries

HESA has released data which shows that 725 of the 23,705 2015/16 graduates1 from universities and higher education providers in Scotland are working in 100 of the world’s 195 countries.

Of the UK2 students who are working abroad after studying at Scotland’s universities, 38.9% graduated in STEM3 subjects.  This compares with 34.3% of UK graduates from all UK universities who are working abroad and who graduated in science, technology, engineering, and maths.

Table shows that 2015/16 graduates from universities and higher education providers in Scotland are working in 100 of the world’s 195 countries

HESA’s annual Destination of Leavers from Higher Education (DLHE4) data also reveals that the countries which attracted most graduates from Scotland’s universities were:
United States of America 75
France 70
Spain 65
China 45
Australia 40
Germany 35
Ireland 30


Unitedf Arab Emirates 25
Canada 20

The top ten destination countries for graduates from both the whole of the UK and Scotland individually, include four EU states – France, Spain, Germany, and Ireland. These countries attracted 28.3% of those students who were working abroad from the whole of the UK, and 27.0% of the students from universities in Scotland who were working abroad.

The top ten destination countries for the whole of the UK have remained unchanged for three years, although the ranking of each has varied.  Of the four UK nations, Scotland was the only country where a non-EU country – the USA – attracted the most student leavers.

The 730 graduates from Scotland’s universities are part of the 281,7505 2015/16 UK graduates, of which 7,165 leavers were working abroad in 173 (89%) of the world’s nations, just six months after graduation.

The information also shows a slight downward trend over five years for the number of UK graduates working abroad soon after graduation.  In 2011/12, 7,780 (2.7%) UK graduates were employed in 183 other countries, six months after leaving university – with the number peaking at 8,335 (2.7%) graduates, also in 183 countries, in 2013/14.  Most recently, the 7,165 UK graduates working abroad, indicates a decrease in both the actual number, as well as the percentage (2.5%), of the UK graduate population which is employed in other countries.

“The data suggests that a consistent element of UK graduates embraces travel and working abroad,” said Denise Jones, Head of Information Services at HESA. “The DLHE survey can give higher education providers, policy-makers, industry, graduate employers, local government planners, and recruitment consultants unique and comprehensive insight into what students do following graduation.”

“Next year we will be able to identify any changes to graduate destinations that result from the continuing Brexit process.  The DLHE survey includes country of destination, which can be linked to other HESA data on employment rates of graduates, level of qualifications, sex, subject or specialism, and ethnicity – all of which can be provided with expert insight.”

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For more information on the DLHE survey

All UK higher education providers have access to this data via the Heidi Plus business intelligence tool


HESA (the Higher Education Statistics Agency) is the recognised source of data on higher education in the UK. Its experts collect, analyse, and disseminate accurate and comprehensive statistical information on all aspects of UK higher education to support the strategic aims of its users and enhance the effectiveness of the sector as a whole. It is a charity and a company limited by guarantee. It operates as an independent organisation, working in close partnership with higher education providers, regulators, funders, government departments, policy makers, and other stakeholders.

This information is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

1 Student leavers who are UK domiciled2 full and part-time, undergraduate, first degree, post-graduate, and doctorate students from UK universities and other higher education providers who responded to the survey and had a known country of employment outside the UK.  This survey had a response rate of 74.4% of UK domiciled leavers with a known destination.

2  For the purposes of analysis, UK students are those whose normal residence before starting their course was in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales, the Isle of Man, or the Channel Islands.

3 STEM subjects are science, technology, engineering and maths.  Click here for a full list of STEM subjects (1-A).

4 The Destinations of Leavers from Higher Education (DLHE) survey consists of all UK, European Union and non-EU domiciled leavers for whom destinations data is expected and sought from UK HE providers in 2015/16 six months after graduation.

5 2015/16 graduates with a known country of employment.


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