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HEFCE closed at the end of March 2018. The information on this website is historical and is no longer maintained.

Many of HEFCE's functions will be continued by the Office for Students, the new regulator of higher education in England, and Research England, the new council within UK Research and Innovation.

The HEFCE domain - - will continue to function until September 2018. At this point we will close the site entirely and all its information will only be available from the National Web Archive.


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Read the report

See the full report

Analysis of transitions to postgraduate study

We have updated our analysis of transitions to postgraduate study of full-time first degree graduates in 2002-03 to 2013-14.

The toolkit of interactive data on these pages support the report and give more detail about the different characteristics of transitions to postgraduate study.

Key findings

Overall transition rates to postgraduate study have fallen over the last decade, although transition to postgraduate taught courses has seen a slight increase

The rate of one-year transition into any postgraduate course fell between 2002-03 qualifiers and 2013-14 qualifiers, from 13.0 per cent to 11.5 per cent.

This was, in part, due to a fall in the rates of transitions to ‘other’ postgraduate courses, which include institutional credit, diplomas, certificates and professional-level qualifications.

Disadvantaged students are less likely to undertake postgraduate study

First-degree qualifiers from the highest participation areas according to the Participation of Local Areas (POLAR) measure (POLAR quintile 5) were more likely to go into PGT and PGR study than those from the lowest participation areas (POLAR quintile 1).

Black and minority ethnic students have higher transition rates to postgraduate taught courses

Black and minority ethnic (BME) graduates were more likely than white graduates to go into postgraduate taught (PGT) study immediately after graduating, and also more likely to return to PGT study after a break.

However, they were less likely to use PGT as a stepping stone to doctorate level study.

A gender gap persists in postgraduate study

Male graduates were more likely to progress into postgraduate research (PGR) study than female graduates. They were also more likely to enter PGT study than their female counterparts.

However, unlike for PGR transition rates, the difference between male and female transition rates is smaller once breaks in study are allowed for, as female graduates are more likely to return later to study PGT.

Uptake of postgraduate study differs greatly by subject

The highest transition rates to PGR are in STEM subjects, regardless of the transition period: specifically in chemistry and material sciences, and physics and astronomy.

The highest rates of transition to PGR via PGT are also in STEM subjects. However, relative to the direct PGR transition rates, subjects in arts, humanities and social sciences rely much more on PGT as a stepping stone to PGR study.

Page last updated 3 August 2016

  • PGT = postgraduate taught 

  • PGR = postgraduate research

  • OPG = other postgraduate