The REFLEX project was funded by the European Commission. The project surveyed graduates in 13 European countries five years after their graduation in 2000. The UK part of the study was undertaken by the Centre for Higher Education Research and Information (CHERI) at the Open University.
The survey asked graduates to comment on their higher education and employment experiences, the competences they believed they required in their workplaces, their roles and responsibilities within the workplace, and their attitudes to their higher education in the light of those experiences.
HEFCE commissioned CHERI to prepare a series of reports based on the European data set to compare the UK graduate outcomes with those of other European countries.
Because the graduate samples were intended to be representative of students on programmes considered to be the main 'exit' qualification before graduates entered the labour market, most graduates surveyed from other European countries had undertaken masters-level study, while UK graduates tended to have bachelors-level qualifications. On the whole, UK graduate respondents were younger and had spent less time in higher education than their European counterparts.
The study found that five years after graduation UK and European salary levels and levels of unemployment are comparable.
However, the series of reports suggests that UK higher education has a different relationship to the labour market than other European countries: programmes are, on the whole, less closely related to the workplace. On entry to the labour market, on average UK graduates have studied less vocational subjects and undertaken less work experience than their European counterparts. Although UK graduates believed themselves to be less well-prepared for employment than graduates from other European countries, the reports show that their medium- to long-term employment prospects are comparable to their European counterparts.
An overview report is available to download which summarises the key findings from the six reports. The questionnaire is also available to download.
Further information about the REFLEX project can be found at www.reflexproject.org