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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 The information on this website is historical and is no longer maintained.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 - www.hefce.ac.uk - 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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Executive summary

Purpose

1. This report looks at the employment outcomes of the 2015-16 graduates and the degree outcomes of the 2016-17 UK-domiciled first degree graduates from HEFCE-funded higher education institutions (excluding further education colleges). It considers how outcomes differ according to various student characteristics measured in terms of class of degree awarded and outcome six months after graduation. It also considers the changes that have taken place since the previous reports on 2013-14 graduates.

Background

2. This report follows on from a series of reports by HEFCE which show that there are significant differences in degree outcomes and employment for different groups of students.

3. In this report we focus on degree and employment outcomes rather than the entire degree journey; progression and non-continuation are examined in other HEFCE publications. The focus of this analysis is to examine the differences in the proportion who gained a first or upper second class degree and graduate employment outcomes for more recent cohorts.

4. The analysis is based on degree outcomes of graduates who graduated in 2016-17, and employment outcomes of those who graduated in 2015-16. It examines how student outcomes vary for different groups after accounting for other factors. In addition, at a sector level, we consider how student outcomes have changed since the last report on 2013-14 graduates.

Key points

5. The focus of this report is about the graduate outcomes for students with different characteristics.

Degree outcomes – proportion achieving a first or upper second

6. The difference between the proportions of young and mature graduates gaining a first or upper second class degree has increased between the 2013-14 and 2016-17 graduating cohorts. Among 2016-17 graduates, the proportion of young graduates who gain a first or upper second class degree is 79 per cent, compared with 67 per cent of mature graduates. This shows a slight increase from 75 per cent of young graduates and 64 per cent of mature graduates in 2013-14.

7. Differences have persisted between different student groups: differences on the basis of gender, disability and educational disadvantage have remained consistent between 2013-14 and 2016-17.

8. More female students than male students gain a first or upper second class degree: 81 per cent of female graduates get a first or upper second class degree compared with 76 per cent of male graduates.

9. The gap between graduates without a disability and graduates in receipt of Disabled Students’ Allowances (DSA) has remained at three percentage points from 2013-14. There is a similar gap between disabled graduates not in receipt of DSA and those without a disability. It has also remained at three percentage points since 2013-14.

10. The gap between Participation of Local Areas (POLAR) quintiles 1 and 5 gaining a first or upper second class degree has remained at 10 percentage points since 2013-14. The gaps between all other quintiles have also remained comparatively stable over this time.

11. There has been a small decrease in the difference in outcomes between graduates of different ethnicities between 2013-14 and 2016-17. White graduates have the highest proportion gaining a first or upper second class degree, namely 82 per cent. The group with the lowest proportion was black graduates with only 60 per cent. Among Asian graduates, the proportion gaining a first or upper second class degree is 72 per cent. The difference between the proportions of white and black graduates has decreased from 23 percentage points in 2013-14 to 22 percentage points in 2016-17. The difference between proportions of white and Asian graduates has reduced from at 12 percentage points in 2013-14 to 11 percentage points in 2016-17.

Employment outcomes – proportion in graduate employment or further study

12. In terms of graduate employment outcomes two characteristics have seen an increased gap between 2013-14 and 2015-16: differences between male and female graduates, and the differences between graduates with and without a disability.

13. Among female graduates, 73 per cent are in highly skilled employment or study compared with 72 per cent of male graduates. This gap has increased slightly from 0.2 percentage points in 2013-14 to 1.0 percentage points in 2015-16.

14. The graduate employment gap between graduates without a disability and graduates in receipt of DSA has increased: from 2.0 percentage points in 2013-14 to 2.6 percentage points in 2015-16. The gap between disabled graduates not in receipt of DSA and those without a disability has increased from 2.2 percentage points in 2013-14 to 2.8 percentage points in 2015-16.

15. Mature graduates continue to do slightly better than young graduates: 77 per cent of mature graduates are in graduate employment or further study compared with 73 per cent for young graduates.

16. The gap between graduates of different ethnicities and different educational disadvantage backgrounds has decreased.

17. Black graduates have 69 per cent graduate employment rate, while white graduates are at 74 per cent. This gap has decreased from seven percentage points in 2013-14 to five percentage points in 2015-16.

18. POLAR quintile 1 graduates have the lowest percentage in graduate employment or further study – 71 per cent – while quintile 5 graduates have the highest proportion in graduate employment or further study, at 75 per cent.

Action required

19. This document is for information only.

 

NB: This report was amended on 28 March 2018, and again on 11 April 2018, to correct an error in Table 4. The correct ‘% reference (female)’ figure for both columns is ‘73.6%’, not ‘72.4%’.

Date: 28 March 2018

Ref: 2018/05

To: Heads of HEFCE-funded higher education institutions

Of interest to those
responsible for:

Planning, Widening participation

Enquiries should be directed to:

Rebecca Finlayson, email qapt@hefce.ac.uk, tel 0117 931 7407