Graduate earnings data on Discover Uni from the Longitudinal Education Outcomes (LEO) data

Experimental statistics: 
These statistics are published as experimental statistics. This means they are still being evaluated and are not yet fully developed.

This page provides more information about the graduate earnings data published by the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) as part of the Unistats dataset, and by the Office for Students (OfS) on the Discover Uni website.

Longitudinal Education Outcomes (LEO) data is produced by the OfS for the different subjects taught at universities and colleges in England. It is published by HESA in the Unistats open dataset, which is then published on the Discover Uni website.

The latest LEO data was released in September 2019.

The graduate earnings data is drawn from the LEO data and is published as experimental statistics.

Experimental statistics are new official statistics which are undergoing evaluation.

They are published to involve users and stakeholders in the assessment of their suitability.

We would like to hear what people think of the graduate earnings data on Discover Uni.

In particular, we would like to know how useful it is to people deciding on higher education courses, and what they think about how it is presented on the site.

We will consider all comments as part of our longer-term plans for using the data.

To give feedback, email [email protected].

The Longitudinal Education Outcomes (LEO) data is a dataset of education records joined to tax and benefits data. This shows whether graduates were employed and how much they were paid.

See more about the data

The data shows the range of typical annual earnings three years after the students have graduated. It is based on UK students who completed an undergraduate course in the academic year 2011-12 or 2012-13 and were in sustained paid employment in the 2015-16 or 2016-17 tax years.

For instance, if someone completed in June 2012 the data would show earnings from April 2015 to March 2016. If they were also studying during that tax year they are excluded because employment was probably not their main activity. If people worked less than a full year we estimate what their earnings would have been if they had worked all year.

The LEO data we publish is based on the Higher Education Statistics Agency’s subject groupings. So it shows the most detailed level of the subject grouping available. Sometimes there is more than one course in a subject grouping. We do not show data at course level because the number of people at course level is usually too small for reliable analysis.

In each subject, the data looks at the range of earnings for all students. We then show the median earnings and an interquartile range. The median is the middle value when all earnings are ordered numerically. The interquartile range shows the middle 50 per cent of values (25 per cent either side of the median). All figures are rounded to the nearest £500.

The LEO data provides earnings information for most graduates for many years after they finished their course.

LEO data on Discover Uni replaces the Longitudinal Destinations of Leavers from Higher Education survey. The latter only used a relatively small sample of graduates. This meant that data could not be shown for individual universities and colleges.

But LEO has information on everyone in paid work in the UK. So we can show data for nearly all subjects at each English provider.

The survey also relies on graduates giving accurate and unbiased answers about their earnings and employment. These factors do not affect LEO.

The LEO data is based on HMRC’s tax records about the amount individuals earned in the UK during the year. The data does not include whether a graduate is working full-time or part-time, or the details of job they are doing, as these are not required by HMRC. The tax data for part-time workers, for example, does not indicate that they are working part-time. This means certain types of workers may have a lower income recorded in LEO.

As a result, if many people from a particular course worked part-time, the earnings may look much lower than for a course where everyone worked full-time.

The average earnings illustrate typical earnings for graduates in that subject.

As with all income data, many factors may affect what someone earns besides their undergraduate course: their ability, background, chosen career, and the region in which they are employed, among other things.

It is important to remember that the data from small numbers of people are less likely to represent typical earnings than data from larger numbers. Also, past trends in earning potential are not always a reliable guide to the future.

Earnings data displayed on Discover Uni may relate to graduates from more than one course. For example, where there are fewer than 15 graduates who studied chemical engineering at a provider, their earnings data may be combined with graduates from other engineering courses. If these different courses have very different earnings, this will not be visible to the user.

The following groups are not included:

  • People with earnings from self-employment are not included. We are not able to calculate what their earnings would be if they worked for the full year, or remove those who only worked for a small part of the year. We will continue to explore possible ways of presenting data for those in self-employment.
  • People who work abroad are not included because they are not in the UK tax data.
  • International students are not included, because a high proportion of them will not stay in the UK after graduating.
  • Those undertaking voluntary work or unpaid internships will not be included because they are not earning.
  • We only show LEO data for higher education providers in England, excluding those who did not submit student data before 2012-13. This is due to different legislative and policy positions in the other countries of the UK.

Next steps

The Unistats dataset and Discover Uni data will be updated to use more recent tax data as that becomes available.

Last updated 19 February 2020
19 February 2020
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