Graduate Outcomes Survey: 86% of graduates say their work is meaningful – Hesa

New release shows graduates’ subjective wellbeing and adds detail to complete June’s open data

Further data from the first ever Graduate Outcomes Survey has been released today (Thur 9 July) by the Higher Education Statistics Agency (Hesa), and reveals that the vast majority of graduates find their current activity meaningful.

Today’s release adds a further ten tables and eight charts to complete the HE Graduate Outcomes Data open data released on 18 June, which revealed the employment status, careers and salaries of nearly 770,000 graduates who completed a higher education qualification at a UK university in 2017/18.

The new tables and charts include further detail of graduates’ activity and employment broken down by personal and study characteristics.

In addition, a new page of the release shows graduates’ subjective wellbeing by graduate activities, subject area of degree, classification of first degree, sex and domicile.

The report makes clear that universities are not solely responsible for graduates’ wellbeing: “There are many factors that influence individuals’ state of wellbeing and data users are advised not to draw causal relationships between higher education experience and wellbeing approximately 15 months after HE course completion.”

It adds that there is still work to be done on understanding the new wellbeing data: “Hesa has agreed with the Graduate Outcomes steering group that we will not publish nor disseminate 2017/18 subjective wellbeing data at provider level. We intend to undertake further work to better understand the characteristics of this data over the coming years.”

Graduate Outcomes Survey – today’s findings include:

  • The vast majority of graduates (86%) “agree” or “strongly agree” that their current activity is meaningful
  • Graduates of subjects allied to medicine, and education (33% in each category), were the most likely to say their life satisfaction was “very high”.
  • The least satisfied graduates studied creative arts and design – 12% say they have “low” levels of satisfaction with their life nowadays.
  • 36% of women feel anxious post-university compared to 26% of men – but are also slightly happier, more satisfied and likely to feel the things they do in life are worthwhile than their male peers.
  • Happiness levels are roughly level across domiciles: UK, EU, non-EU and non-UK
  • Students with first-class degrees are more satisfied than those with thirds with their post-university careers
  • Salary plays a large part in how satisfied people are with their post-university career


The Graduate Outcomes Survey replaces the Destinations of Leavers from Higher Education (DLHE) survey, which surveyed university leavers just six months after course completion. The two surveys measure different metrics and are, therefore, incomparable for analysts looking for long-term trends.

You might also like: Graduate Outcomes Survey: three-quarters in highly skilled occupations 15 months after graduating – Hesa

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