New measure shows substantial differences in likely job and study outcomes for students

A new measure, published today by the Office for Students (OfS), 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 OfS, 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.”

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.

Read the report


  • The data published alongside this press release and accompanying notes indicate where data should be treated with increased caution
  • The subjects where the Proceed measure is below 55 per cent are:
    • Sociology, social policy and anthropology – 48.1 per cent
    • Agriculture, food and related studies – 52.2 per cent
    • Business and management – 53.9 per cent
    • Psychology – 54.0 per cent
    • Media, journalism and communications – 54.8 per cent
    • Sport and exercise sciences – 54.8 per cent.
  • Some students may progress into professional employment or further study without qualifying with a first degree at their original provider (for example after qualifying with a lower-level award), but these paths are not counted positively by the compound measure
  • A Proceed rate has been calculated for 131 universities and other higher education providers, projecting outcomes of approximately 350,000 students
  • The Proceed measure is constructed from two metrics, drawing on established methods from the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) UK performance indicators (UKPIs), that describe outcomes from two relevant stages of the student lifecycle:
    • The projected completion measure: The proportion of students projected to obtain a first degree at their original provider. The projection is based on the patterns of student retention and completion observed in one year using the most recently available student data, rather than tracking a single cohort over time
    • The graduate progression measure: Defined as the proportion of Graduate Outcomes survey respondents in professional employment or any type of further study, or retired, travelling or caring for someone 15 months after completing their course.
Published 19 May 2021

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