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Recent Graduates of Universities in Wales are Now Working in 58 Countries

HESA has released data which shows that 320 of the 14,725 2015/16 graduates1 from universities and other higher education providers in Wales are working in 58 of the world’s 195 countries.

Of the UK2 students who are working abroad after studying at universities in Wales, 39.9% 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.

HESA’s annual Destination of Leavers from Higher Education (DLHE4) data also reveals that the countries which attracted most graduates from Wales' universities were:
France 35
China 30
United States of America 25
Spain 20
Australia 20
Italy 15
Ireland 10
Switzerland 10
Netherlands 10
Hong Kong 10

The top ten destination countries for graduates from both the whole of the UK, and also Northern Ireland and Scotland individually, include four EU states – France, Spain, Germany, and Ireland.  Student leavers from universities in Wales, however, broke this trend with fewer going to Germany, but with enough of them working in Italy and the Netherlands to push these two countries into the top ten destinations, and to put five EU states in the Wales top ten destinations.  

The top ten destination countries for the whole of the UK have remained unchanged for three years, although the ranking of each has varied.  But of the four UK nations, Wales was the only country where two non-EU countries – China and the USA – were in the top three destinations.  Hong Kong was also a top ten destination for students from Wales, but this wasn’t the case with England, Northern Ireland, and Scotland.

The 320 graduates from universities in Wales 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.  HESA’s DLHE survey includes country of destination data, in addition to the analysis of 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 from universities and other higher education providers who are UK domiciled2 full and part-time, undergraduate, first degree, post-graduate, and doctorate students from 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 73.8% 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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