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UK – There are better ways to capture graduate outcomes data

Early indications are that the United Kingdom Higher Education Statistics Agency’s new Graduate Outcomes survey, due to be published in spring 2020, is in danger of falling short of benchmark response rates and is even undermining the credibility of the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF).

As importantly, the benefit to students of high-quality data on graduate outcomes would be lost. It’s a toxic mix of outcomes fuelled by outdated data collection methodology and sub-optimal engagement strategies.

The Graduate Outcomes survey will look at graduate employment 15 months after leaving universities and is the successor to the Destinations of Leavers from Higher Education (DLHE) survey, which took those details after six months.

It’s a laudable effort to get a more realistic picture of the immediate benefits of a university education, but it has come with some compromises. Target response rates for home students have been reduced to 60% from the 80% required in DLHE.