A new measure, published today by the Office for Students (@OfficeStudents), projects new students’ likelihood of finding professional level employment or embarking on further study in the year after they graduate. The measure reveals substantial differences between individual universities and other higher education providers, in different subjects, and in different subjects at individual universities.
The measure ‘Projected completion and employment from entrant data’ (Proceed) is derived by multiplying the percentage of students projected to complete their degree by the percentage who are in professional employment or study 15 months after graduation.
It is intended that the measure will provide important information to prospective students as they consider where and what to study. The OfS has shared the measure and methodology widely, and made refinements in response to feedback from universities and colleges, as well as careers’ advisers and the OfS student panel.
Key findings from the data include:
- significant differences in performance between different universities and colleges. The measure projects that over 75 per cent of entrants at 22 universities and other higher education providers will go on to find professional employment or further study shortly after graduation. At 25 universities and other education providers, less than half of students who begin a degree can expect to finish that degree and find professional employment or further study within 15 months of graduation
- significant differences at a subject level. For example, 95.5 per cent of medicine and dentistry entrants are projected to find professional employment or further study. Conversely the rates are below 55 per cent in six subjects
- instances where there is varied performance between subjects at individual universities.
Commenting on the data Nicola Dandridge, chief executive of the Office for Students, said:
“It is important that prospective students have access to good independent information about courses they may be interested in. The report we are publishing today provides a wealth of data which can help students decide which university, and which subject, might be right for them. In publishing this information we recognise that – for many students – finding professional employment after graduation is one of the most important reasons for going to university. But it is not the only reason, and it is important to value all the wider benefits of higher education, including the personal development, the cultural richness and exposure to different people and different perspectives that higher education offers. Nonetheless many universities make significant use of data about the employment outcomes for their graduates when marketing their courses. The publication of this independent data will provide further assistance to students in their decision-making.
“The data reflects the fact that higher education offers good outcomes, and that graduates can expect to earn, on average, far more than non-graduates over the course of their careers. Indeed, many of the financial benefits of higher education are not realised immediately after graduation.”
“This work demonstrates the continuing priority that the OfS places on the quality of courses. The quality of higher education in England is generally high. But this data brings into sharp focus the fact that there are profound differences in outcomes for students, depending on where they study and the subject they choose. While we have no plans to use this indicator for regulatory purposes, we are determined to tackle poor quality provision which offers a raw deal for students. We are currently consulting on our approach to regulating student outcomes with a view to raising the numerical baselines we have used previously and – subject to the outcomes of the consultation – will set out next steps shortly. But good outcomes are only part of the story and we are also planning further interventions to ensure that all students have a high quality academic experience and are assessed in a rigorous way.”
Education Secretary, Gavin Williamson said:
“Everyone, regardless of background or stage of life, should have access to the high quality education they need to make the career choices that work best for them, and lead to successful futures.
“This government has a manifesto commitment to tackle low quality higher education and drive up standards, and this data proves there is much more work to be done.
“Our landmark Skills Bill makes clear the power of the Office for Students to take much needed action in this area, including it’s ability to enforce minimum standards for universities on course completion rates and graduate outcomes, and I look forward to seeing the results of this work."
The OfS has consulted widely on the publication of this Proceed measure, with anonymised data originally being published last year. As a result of feedback received, a number of changes have been made to the methodology. These changes include adding sector-adjusted benchmarks to the data, to help users compare the performance of universities or colleges who recruit similar types of students. Changes have also been made to better reflect that travelling, caring and student transfer all may have been positive outcomes for students.