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Executive summary

1. This report is an update to a previous HEFCE report, ‘Differences in employment outcomes: Equality and diversity characteristics’ (HEFCE 2015/23), which was published in September 2015. The first report examined the early career employment outcomes of UK-domiciled students who qualified from a full-time first degree course at an English higher education institution in the academic year 2008-09. It identified differences in employment outcomes for different equality groups qualifying from publicly funded English higher education institutions, and examined whether differences seen in a graduate’s early career persist into the medium term.

2. This report updates HEFCE’s earlier analysis, to examine the early career employment outcomes for the equivalent population of students graduating in the academic year 2010-11. It identifies where important findings are consistent across both the 2010-11 graduating cohort and their 2008-09 counterparts, and it provides an overview of some of the key differences arising between these cohorts.

3. Like the September 2015 report, this report looks at two employment outcomes: ‘professional employment rate’ and ‘employment rate’. Graduates who are in professional employment, or further study only, are included in professional employment rates. Graduates who are in any form of employment, or further study only, are included in the employment rates.

4. Both the 2008-09 and the 2010-11 cohort will have been affected by the economic recession and the subsequent recovery. Comparable data to that presented here is not available for any previous cohort not affected by the recession. However, discussion of short-term outcomes and the effect of the recession can be found in the accompanying blog post, ‘What happens if you graduate in a recession?’.

5. Interactive graphs accompany this document and provide more detailed data relating to the profiles and employment rates of the 2010-11 qualifiers. 

Key points

6. A higher proportion of 2010-11 graduates were in employment six months after graduating than 2008-09 graduates. The rates of both professional and non-professional employment increased.

7. There was a 3.4 percentage point decline between 2008-09 and 2010-11 graduates in the proportion of students in further study six months after graduation.

8. The proportion of graduates in professional employment between six and 40 months after graduation increased substantially for both the 2008-09 and 2010-11 cohorts.

9. In both cohorts, male graduates have higher professional employment rates six and 40 months after graduation. However, female graduates have higher overall employment rates.

10. The differences in overall employment rates between white graduates and those from minority ethnicities are smaller for graduates in 2010-11 than in 2008-09. However, differences in professional employment rates have not improved and graduates from minority ethnicities mostly have much lower professional employment rates, especially 40 months after graduation.

11. Graduates from the most advantaged backgrounds (based on the Participation of Local Areas 3 measure of young participation in higher education) have substantially higher professional employment rates than those from the least advantaged backgrounds, at both six and 40 months after qualifying, for both cohorts.

Action required

12. This report is for information only.

Date: 24 August 2016

Ref: HEFCE 2016/18

To: Heads of HEFCE-funded higher education institutions

Of interest to those
responsible for:

Learning and teaching, Planning, Skills, Equalities, Student data, Graduate employability and careers

Enquiries should be directed to:

Alison Brunt, tel 0117 931 7166, email, or Quantitative Analysis for Policy Team, email