Positive set of graduate outcomes for the class of 2017/18 in new data set

A new, “experimental” set of statistics showing graduate outcomes 15 months after the competition of studies has been released by the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) for the first time today.

The data confirm a range of positive outcomes for the graduates of Scotland’s universities including:

  • 90% of graduates from Scotland’s universities were in some form of work and/or further study 15 months after graduation. The 90% figure applies to postgraduates and undergraduates.[1]
  • Graduates from providers in Scotland were more likely to be in full time employment (60%) than graduates from providers in other UK countries.
  • Only 3% of graduates of Scotland’s universities were unemployed 15 months after graduation, which corresponds with the UK average and sits slightly better than the 4% unemployment figure for graduates of universities in England.
  • The median high skilled salary across all full-time, undergraduate degree subjects is £24,000 for graduates of all UK higher education providers and £25,000 for graduates of Scotland’s universities.
  • The data showed that 77% of all graduates in employment are working in highly skilled occupations, as defined by standard occupational classification.[1]

The new Graduate Outcomes survey has been designed by HESA to capture a richer picture of graduate outcomes by asking the graduates themselves to reflect on the value of their current activity and whether they are using what they learned at university. These “graduate voice” data offer a more rounded and qualitative account of the benefits of a degree, from the perspective of the graduate, than employment figures and average salary data can offer alone. Amongst the new statistics from the “graduate voice” data set are:

  • 86% of graduates from Scotland’s universities, at all levels of study, agreed or strongly agreed that they were engaged in “meaningful activity” at the point of the survey. This figure was 85% for undergraduates from Scotland’s universities and the UK average was 84% of undergraduates.
  • 72% of graduates from Scotland’s universities, at all levels of study, agreed or strongly agreed that they were using what they had studied at university in their activity (work and/or further study) at the point of the survey (15 months after graduation). The figure was 70% for undergraduates from Scotland’s universities and the UK average was 68% of undergraduates.

Responding to the figures, Alastair Sim, Director of Universities Scotland, said:

“This data set confirms that graduates move quickly into positive destinations, including the labour market, freelancing or further study, and the majority settle quickly into high skill jobs that pay well, with a salary average of £25,000 amongst those in high skill occupation in just 15 months.

“Salary is only one way to value a career, as the pandemic has shown us repeatedly, and we’re pleased that this data gives us a much better insight into the value that the graduates themselves attach to what they are doing, with very high percentages finding meaning in what they are doing and more than 70% of graduates have found that they are using what they learned at university to support them.”

“These statistics are good news for graduates and they help to reinforce the value of a degree to the individual and to the wider economy and society. We’re acutely aware that this data relates to the graduate cohort from two years ago, and that this year’s graduates will enter a very challenging labour market. Universities are working really closely with their final year students to do everything they can to support them with choices and present career and other opportunities. We know that graduates are resilient, even during a recession, and that based on the experience during the financial crash a decade ago, graduate-level skills are very important to the nation’s recovery.”

This data set evaluates the outcomes of the graduate cohort of the 2017/18 academic year, 15 months after completion of their studies. It captures the data at a snapshot in time for the respondents. The Graduate Outcomes data set replaces the Destinations of Leavers data set that was published annually. Data in the graduate outcomes cannot be compared with the destination of leavers data prior to 2017/18. As the data set is experimental, it will become more reliable over future years.


  • The HESA Graduate Outcomes can be found here.
  • The data set published today is a set of “experimental statistics”. This is defined by HESA as newly developed or innovative official statistics that are undergoing evaluation. They are published with the aim of involving users and stakeholders in the assessment of their suitability and quality. Users should exercise caution when using data from experimental statistics, and evaluate the quality and coverage of any data they intend to use in the context of the intended application to ensure that it is fit for the user’s purpose.
  • It is not possible to compare this data set of graduate outcomes with HESA’s previous graduate destinations data as it is an entirely new survey, conducted differently from previous surveys and producing different information.
  • [1] This applies to students on all modes of study (full and part time).
  • [2] The 77% figure applies to postgraduates and undergraduates