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The Mayor of London The London Assembly

Graduate outcomes in London

At the end of 2019 the Greater London Authority (GLA) commissioned the Social Market Foundation (SMF) to conduct research focusing on how the outcomes of graduates who have studied in London and those from London vary, by a range of different characteristics. The report ‘Graduate outcomes in London’ was published on the London Datastore in March 2021.

It uses data from the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) and includes four cohorts from the academic years 2010/11 to 2013/14. It looks at three groups of students – Londoners who left London to study, Londoners who remained in London to study, and those who lived elsewhere in the UK who came to London to study.

Following a literature review and descriptive analysis of the data provided by HESA, the SMF ran a series of logit regression models to look further into how different characteristics influence graduate outcomes when controlling for other variables.

Main findings

The research looked at student characteristics that predicted an increased likelihood of obtaining a first class degree, being in work or further study six months after graduation, earning £25,000 or above from full time employment six months after graduation, and being in a graduate role six months after graduation.

Not all students receive the same outcomes associated with gaining a degree. There are differences by gender, socio-economic status and ethnicity.

Women are marginally more likely to get first class degrees and be in work or further study compared to men. However, the research also found that women are ten per cent less likely to be earning £25,000 or above compared to men and eight per cent less likely to be in graduate employment.

Black graduates are less likely to gain a first class degree, less likely to be in graduate employment and less likely to be earning £25,000 or above compared to White Graduates.

Graduates from an Asian background are less likely to get a first class degree, less likely to be in employment and less likely to be in a graduate role compared to White graduates.

Students who enter higher education with vocational qualifications achieve slightly worse outcomes than those who enter with academic qualifications.

Undertaking a placement is associated with better outcomes. However, placement degrees are more popular amongst certain groups of students and at certain institutions. More research is needed to understand the barriers to these opportunities for BAME students and those from lower socio-economic backgrounds who appear less likely to undertake these work experience placements when controlling for subject of study.

Next steps

This research paints a stark picture of inequalities in relation to graduate outcomes. Building on this work, further research could be conducted to understand the drivers behind the patterns seen in this research. The work should also be repeated on more up-to-date data, if available, to see whether inequalities have narrowed in recent years. The final remark concerns this work focusing purely on outcomes six months after graduation. Therefore, it does not provide a full picture on how graduates fare over their life course – further research could be attempted focusing on medium to longer term outcomes.