Strong career starts for Scottish graduates with the lowest levels of unemployment in the UK three years on

Universities Scotland today (Thursday 29 August) welcomed the publication by the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) of its survey looking at what graduates from 2008/09 are doing three and a half years after graduation.

According to the survey, UK domiciled graduates from Scotland’s universities had the lowest levels of assumed unemployment at 2.5% compared to 3.3% in England, 3.4% in Wales, 3.1% in Northern Ireland and a UK average of 3.2%.

The survey also showed that 94.7% of UK domiciled graduates from Scotland’s universities were in positive destinations three and a half years after graduation, the highest level in the UK (92.1% in England, 92.9% in Wales, 93.9% in Northern Ireland and a UK average of 92.4%).

A UK-wide comparison of today’s survey to the 2010 survey of leavers from 2006/07, reveals a small increase in the proportion of UK domiciled graduates in employment or further study, as well as a small decrease in the proportion who are unemployed.

Under normal circumstances the low unemployment rate of Scotland’s graduates would be impressive, but this is a survey of the cohort of graduates from 2009 in the midst of the global economic downturn making this achievement remarkable.

Universities Scotland’s Director, Alastair Sim said:


“Today’s HESA figures tell us that Scotland’s graduates of 2009 have the lowest unemployment rates in the UK three and a half years after graduation. These are graduates who entered the labour market in the toughest of economic circumstances at the height of the credit crunch, so this is a welcome achievement demonstrating the resilience of Scottish graduates and their appeal to employers.

“Today’s figures come on top of the news at the beginning of the summer that Scottish graduates in 2012 have the highest rates of positive destinations compared to their peers elsewhere in the UK six months after graduation. This success is testament to our institutions’ dedication to the employability of their students: every university in Scotland has embedded employability as a core part of the curriculum. What’s more, the sector is looking to build on this success by prioritising the youth employment agenda and taking forward recommendations from Universities Scotland’s 2012 employability report, Taking Pride in the Job.”



  1. Today’s HESA Destinations of Leavers from Higher Education Longitudinal Survey’, Download, 2008/09 can be found here. Relevant data (as quoted) is contained in Table 2.
  2. Universities Scotland’s press release from 27 June 2013 on DLHE 2011/12 can be read here.
  3. Universities Scotland’s report, Taking Pride in the Job: University action on graduate employment, can be read here.