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The latest HEFCE research analyses the responses of 36,000 English graduates who were asked how satisfied they are with their undergraduate choices (see Note 1).

The Destination of Leavers of Higher Education Longitudinal Survey is conducted 40 months after graduation. It asks: ‘If you were now to choose whether or not to do the course leading to your qualification, how likely or unlikely is it that you would?’ The most recent results found that:

  • one-third of graduates would consider choosing a different subject
  • black and minority ethnic (BME) graduates are more likely to wish they had chosen a different university course
  • female graduates are more satisfied with their choice of university.

The graduates surveyed qualified from full-time undergraduate (first) degree programmes in academic year 2010-11.

Most graduates are satisfied with their choices and would not choose differently. Approximately two-thirds of them would be unlikely to choose a different subject, and three-quarters would go to the same institution again.

However, levels of satisfaction vary significantly across ethnic groups, with BME graduates more likely to wish they had made different higher education choices. Relative to white graduates:

  • the proportion of Black African graduates who say they would be likely to choose a different qualification is 18 percentage points higher
  • the proportion of Pakistani and Bangladeshi graduates likely to choose something completely different is 14 percentage points higher
  • the proportion of Indian graduates likely to choose a different qualification is 10 percentage points higher
  • the proportion of Chinese graduates likely to choose a different institution is nine percentage points higher.

An implication of the findings is that prospective BME students may need more and better information, advice and guidance to be able to make better decisions about what and where they choose to study. It could also point to issues around inclusive curricula, learning and teaching practices, a sense of belonging, and differences in social, cultural and economic capital, which have been shown to be important in terms of differential outcomes of higher education study (see Note 2).

Other findings from the report include that mature graduates (aged 21 or over on entry to higher education) are more satisfied with their choices than young graduates. They are less likely to say they would choose something completely different, to wish they had gone to a different institution, or to study a different subject.

Female graduates are less likely than male graduates to say they would go to a different institution, but are two percentage points more likely to say they would choose something completely different. 

Notes

1. These are graduates who were living in England before their course started.

2. In response to the 2016 grant letter to HEFCE, to support ‘the sector in addressing the differential outcomes for some groups of students’, a Catalyst call to higher education providers has been made for proposals to scale up activities to address barriers to student success. 

3. The report 'Graduate satisfaction with undergraduate choices' is available on the HEFCE website.

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