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OSCR uses the idea that a subject is vocational if it leads to employment in a small number of occupations.

Using information from the Destination of Leavers from Higher Education Survey on the number of graduates from a subject area who are employed in a narrow set of occupations, an OSCR has been calculated for all subjects with more than 25 graduates between 2012-13 and 2015-16.

This measure finds that 10 per cent of degree subjects are highly vocational, including subjects such as medicine, dentistry and nursing. A further 10 per cent are found to be fairly vocational, including civil engineering, information technology and landscape design.

For the remaining subject areas, graduates are employed across a wider number of occupations six months after graduation, meaning that these areas are less vocational.

Analysis using the OSCR shows that graduates choosing more vocational subjects have a good chance of finding a well paid job which uses the skills they have learnt from their degree within six months of graduation.

We also find there are less vocational subjects where graduates also experience positive outcomes in their early careers, such as maths, physics and business studies.

We do not intend to suggest that subjects should become more or less vocational. Less vocational subjects offer a broad range of options to graduates, while more vocational subjects restrict these options in a graduate’s early career.

We believe this information can help potential students choose which degree subject to study.

This is an experimental measure and we are keen to receive any comments, feedback or suggestions on it and its potential uses.

HEFCE’s Chief Executive, Professor Madeleine Atkins, said:

‘It is really important that students have access to a range of information when choosing their degree courses. Being able to see how vocational a degree is will help students have realistic expectations of their likely early career progression.’


1. OSCR has been created using data from the Higher Education Statistics Agency’s Individualised Student Record and the Destination of Leavers from Higher Education survey.

2. These findings cannot be interpreted as a causal effect of OSCR on either highly skilled employment or earnings. Modelling has shown a positive relationship between OSCR and employment outcomes, but multiple other factors also have an impact on employment outcomes.

3. The report ‘Vocational degrees and employment outcomes’ can be found on the HEFCE website.

4. Comments, feedback and suggestions on the OSCR and its potential uses should be submitted by email to