At a glance

Graduate Outcomes is the largest social survey in the UK, capturing the perspectives and the current status of graduates 15 months after they finish their studies. Running since 2018, IFF Research supports HESA with data collection, operating the telephone call centre and helping them collect almost 400,000 responses each year.

About the client

HESA are leading experts in UK HE data and the designated data body in England. Since the early 90s, they have worked in collaboration with providers across the UK to collect, curate and disseminate one of the world’s leading HE data sources. In this role, they have overseen high profile research such as the Graduate Outcomes survey and its predecessor series, the Destination of Leavers from Higher Education (DLHE).

“It is a real pleasure working with IFF on the largest annual social survey in the UK. Their ability to adapt, attention to detail and adherence to principles of good practice in research have led to the establishment of a strong foundation for Graduate Outcomes. Good communication within the organisation and with HESA as their client has enabled us to tackle challenges in a timely manner while meeting critical deadlines. Being a solution-oriented organisation, IFF have made a significant contribution towards the successful customisation of the CATI system, in order to meet the most complex requirements of this survey.”

Neha Agarwal, Head of Research & Insight, HESA

Challenges and objectives

Graduate Outcomes was born out of a 2-year sector wide consultation looking at the ongoing suitability of the DLHE series in the face of a) exponential change in the graduate career landscape and b) increased use of the data in HE performance metrics. The survey’s definition of “successful outcomes” and the extent to which it adequately recognised phenomena, such as the rise of the gig economy and more fluid working patterns, were particularly important. Stakeholders also identified a need for graduate’s self-assessment to be more directly accounted for.

Solution

Graduate Outcomes is disseminated across four graduate cohorts over a 12-month period. Almost 400,000 graduates respond in a single year, either online or over the phone. The questionnaire was adapted as part of the New DLHE Review between July 2015 and June 2017 to capture greater granularity of the graduate activities, including bespoke questions on self-employment and freelancing. As well as a new set of measures capturing the graduate ‘voice’, incorporating their self-assessment in the definition of “successful outcomes”.

Impact

Official Statistics from Graduate Outcomes are published annually via HESA’s website. They are used by policy makers, charities, journalists, researchers and others to understand the higher education sector and the state of the graduate labour market. The data is also used by Higher Education providers across the UK to evaluate and promote their offerings and acts a vital source of information for prospective students, helping them to make decisions about what and where to study.

The Office for Students (OfS) use Graduate Outcomes data to ultimately inform public policy and helps OfS set their strategic objectives and KPIs, including measures around employability and graduate wellbeing. It also plays an important part in compiling official guidance for UK HE on the DiscoverUni website, which OfS co-own with other sector bodies in the UK.

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