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Executive summary

Purpose

1. The purpose of this document is to provide initial analysis of the first Intentions After Graduation Survey (IAGS) and to provide a baseline prior to surveying those cohorts affected by the 2012 fee reforms. The IAGS aims to provide information on the planned destinations of final-year student cohorts, and the underlying reasons for making these choices.

Key points

2. This report focuses on funding council fundable first degree students. There were 103,040 valid IAGS responses from this population, which equated to a response rate of 66 per cent of online National Student Survey (NSS) respondents. This corresponds to 34 per cent of those in their final year and eligible for the NSS.

3. The IAGS survey design enabled respondents to be grouped into four groups based on the likelihood that they would enter postgraduate study. These postgraduate (PG) intention groups are outlined below and are referenced throughout the report.

  1. Intend: those who intended to go into postgraduate study within six months of graduation, 17 per cent of respondents (17,095).
  2. Consider: those who were not sure what they intended to do within six months of graduation but would consider further study at postgraduate level, 1 per cent of respondents (1,530).
  3. Likely: those who did not intend to study at postgraduate level in the next six months but were either certain or likely to enter postgraduate study in the future, 26 per cent of respondents (26,885).
  4. Unlikely: those who did not intend to study at postgraduate level in the next six months and were unsure about, unlikely to enter or definitely not going to enter postgraduate study in the future, 56 per cent of respondents (57,530).

Overall responses to the IAGS

4. When asked about their plans for the six months after graduation, more than half of respondents said they would be looking for a job and one in five said they intended to go into further study. Multiple responses were allowed and other plans included entering a graduate scheme, travelling abroad and starting a new job.

5. Respondents were asked to consider how likely it was that they would enter postgraduate study in the future. 44 per cent were certain or likely, 25 per cent were unsure and 31 per cent would definitely not or were unlikely to return to postgraduate study. When asked about the factors affecting this decision, course fees and the overall cost of living were the most common responses.

6. Of those respondents certain or likely to return to postgraduate study, around two-thirds stated an interest in the subject and wanting to obtain a higher-level qualification as the main reasons for wanting to return. Most of these respondents also indicated that they would begin their study within three years of graduating (42 per cent immediately after graduation and 40 per cent within three years). As expected, the most popular mode of study was full-time (62 per cent), and the most popular level of study was a taught masters (59 per cent). However, 24 per cent were considering a PGCE or teaching qualification and 19 per cent were considering a research degree or doctorate.

7. Of those respondents who said they were unsure about, unlikely to enter or definitely not planning to enter postgraduate study, 62 per cent of respondents were put off by course fees, and 44 per cent by the overall cost of living. When asked about factors which might encourage postgraduate study, 64 per cent cited additional financial support.

8. Of those who intended to go into further study, 6 per cent planned to study abroad, 83 per cent planned to stay in the UK and 11 per cent were unsure of their plans.

Group characteristics

9. The attributes of respondents in each PG intention group (see paragraph 3) were considered. A higher percentage of female students indicated they Intended to go into postgraduate study (18 per cent) or were Likely to go into postgraduate study (27 per cent) than male students (15 per cent and 25 per cent respectively).

10. Students with a disability had higher percentages who Intended (18 per cent) and were Likely (27 per cent) to enter postgraduate study in the future compared with students with no disability (16 per cent and 26 per cent respectively).

11. The distribution of European Union (EU) and International students was significantly different from that of UK-domiciled students, with EU and international students more likely to aspire to postgraduate study. Of those who were UK-domiciled, 16 per cent Intended to and 25 per cent were Likely to study at postgraduate level. Of EU and International students, 28 per cent Intended to and 40 per cent were Likely to study at postgraduate level.

12. Within UK-domiciled respondents, Black students had the highest percentage Intending to or Likely to enter postgraduate study (22 per cent and 38 per cent respectively). Furthermore, when considering the proportion Unlikely to enter postgraduate study in the future, Black students had the lowest proportion (39 per cent) and White students the highest proportion (59 per cent). However, this analysis did not consider multiple explanatory variables and it was not possible to say whether these findings were a result of other factors, such as subject area or type of PG study.

13. Around one in six respondents were mature students at the start of their first degree study. A higher percentage of mature students indicated that they Intended to study at postgraduate level (18 per cent) or were Likely to go into postgraduate study (33 per cent) than young students (16 per cent and 25 per cent respectively).

14. Of those who were young and domiciled in England, a higher percentage from low-participation (Participation of Local Areas quintile 1) backgrounds were Likely to enter postgraduate study (27 per cent) than those from high-participation (quintile 5) backgrounds (22 per cent). However, this relationship is likely to vary depending on the type of postgraduate qualification.

15. Just 3 per cent of respondents were studying part-time in the final year of their first degree. However, a higher percentage of part-time respondents (30 per cent) were Likely to enter postgraduate study in the future than full-time respondents (26 per cent).

16. Institutional type was considered and showed that students from high average tariff English higher education institutions had a higher percentage of respondents who Intended to study at postgraduate level (19 per cent) than other English institutional groups and further education colleges.

17. This report considered a broad subject grouping and showed similar distributions for science-based and non-science-based respondents, with the qualification that postgraduate research was a more likely consideration for students in science-based subjects. This simplifies a more complex relationship and more detailed subject groupings will be considered in future analysis.

Group results

18. Responses to a selection of questions were split by PG intention group. When asked about their plans in the six months after graduation, respondents were most likely to be looking for a job (52 per cent); however, this proportion varied between different PG intention groups. As expected, a higher percentage of those Unlikely to enter postgraduate study planned to look for a job (63 per cent) than those intending to study (31 per cent).

19. When those who wanted to study were asked about the factors behind this decision, there was little difference between the PG intention groups. Most students wanted to further their knowledge of the subject area and to gain a higher-level qualification regardless of their PG intention group.

20. Of those who wanted to study, the types of qualification considered (including taught masters degree, PGCE or research degree or doctorate) by each PG intention group were similar to the overall proportions. When asked about what mode of study they planned to undertake, 79 per cent of students who Intended to go into postgraduate study planned to do so full-time, compared with 51 per cent of students Likely to enter postgraduate study. Further, 71 per cent of those who Intended to go into postgraduate study planned to enter immediately after graduating compared to 25 per cent of those Likely to enter.

Action required

21. This document is for information only.

Date: December 2013

Ref: 2013/34

To: Heads of HEFCE-funded higher education institutions

Of interest to those
responsible for:

Postgraduate education, Student opportunity, Planning, Graduate outcomes