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Executive summary

Purpose

1. This report examines the degree outcomes and employment circumstances of young UK-domiciled students starting a full-time first degree course in the academic year 2006-07 at a higher education institution (HEI).

Key points

Data

2. The data for the report have been taken from five cohorts of UK-domiciled, young, full-time first degree students (starting in academic years 2002-03 to 2006-07) who have been tracked through higher education (HE) and beyond using administrative data.

3. Four possible outcomes of HE are examined:

  • achieving a degree
  • achieving a first or upper second class degree
  • achieving a degree and continuing to employment or further study
  • achieving a degree and continuing to graduate employment (as opposed to any employment) or further study.

Overall time series

4. The percentage who achieved a degree increased from 81.5 per cent of the 2002-03 cohort to 82.3 per cent of the 2006-07 cohort, and the percentage who achieved a first or upper second class degree increased from 49.6 per cent for the 2002-03 cohort to 53.3 per cent for the 2006-07 cohort.

5. There was an overall decrease in the percentage who achieved a degree and continued to employment or further study, from 72.0 per cent of the 2002-03 cohort to 71.4 per cent of the 2006-07 cohort. A similar decrease was seen in the percentage who qualified with a degree and continued to graduate employment or further study, from 48.1 per cent of the 2002-03 cohort to 47.8 per cent of the 2006-07 cohort.

Student characteristics effects for the 2006-07 cohort

6. Focusing on the cohort who started on a full-time first degree in 2006-07, we find that:

  1. The percentage of the cohort who achieved each of the four outcomes increases based on the likelihood of participation in HE in their local area.
  2. There were more than 21,000 more female students than male students in the cohort, and a greater percentage of the female cohort achieved each of the four outcomes.
  3. A lower percentage of black students achieved each of the outcomes than of any other ethnic group, but no single ethnicity held the highest percentage for all four outcomes.
  4. Students in receipt of disabled students allowance performed better than those who identify as having a disability but were not in receipt of disabled students allowance.
  5. A greater percentage of students who attended an independent school prior to university achieved each of the four outcomes compared with students from state schools.
  6. When looking at the entry qualifications of students, there was an increase in the percentage of the students who achieved each of the outcomes corresponding with an increase in their tariff scores from A-levels, AS-levels and Scottish Highers.

Degree subject effects for the 2006-07 cohort

7. Students taking computer science had the lowest percentage of the cohort who achieved each outcome, except that of achieving a degree and continuing to graduate employment or further study. Those studying mass communications and documentation had the lowest percentage in this outcome.

8. Historical and philosophical studies and languages had the greatest percentage of students who achieved a degree, and the greatest percentage who achieved a first or upper second class degree. On the employment outcomes, however, education and medicine and subjects allied to medicine, dentistry and veterinary sciences had the greatest percentage who achieved a degree and continued to employment or further study, and the greatest percentage who achieved a degree and continued to graduate employment or further study.

Institutional type effects for the 2006-07 cohort

9. We see that HEIs with a high average entry tariff had the greatest percentage of the cohort who achieved each of the four outcomes, and HEIs with low average tariffs had the lowest percentage achieving each of the four outcomes. Specialist HEIs performed better than HEIs with a medium average tariff and non-HEFCE-funded HEIs, but not as well as HEIs with a high average tariff.

Action required

10. This document is for information only.

Date: July 2013

Ref: 2013/15

To: Heads of HEFCE-funded further education colleges, Heads of HEFCE-funded higher education institutions

Of interest to those
responsible for:

Learning and teaching, Planning, Graduate employability and careers

Enquiries should be directed to:

Chris Nicholls, tel 0117 931 7278, e-mail c.nicholls@hefce.ac.uk

or the Quantitative Analysis for Policy team, e-mail qapt@hefce.ac.uk