HE Research Snippet 11 – Is your institution getting across its message on future employability?

Posted on 12th December 2013 by Youth

Research Snippets: Our monthly Research Snippets look at interesting and topical findings unearthed by the HE team at YouthSight. See all our HE Research Snippets here. If any of your colleagues would like to receive our Research Snippets, ask them to drop a line to: james.macgregor@YouthSight.com

Future employability statistics now play a major role in prospective students’ decision-making, feeding into, amongst other things, league tables, Key Information Sets and HEI promotional materials. As HEIs prepare to undertake DLHE surveys to substantiate their 2013 employment outcomes, we thought it would be timely to look at how well universities are getting their message across on future employability. We found a very variable picture. Some universities do a great job at selling their successes. Others don’t!

Over the past six years the economic downturn has lowered students’ expectations of finding a graduate level career job after finishing university. Figure 1 shows that perceptions of graduate employability declined from 2008/09 to 2011/12, reflecting the reality. During this period students at modern universities were particularly pessimistic. However, in 2012/13 according to our Higher Expectations data there was a significant bounce back in perceptions; students started feeling more positive about getting a job. This year’s study is currently in field – we’ll report back on overall results next Spring (and if you subscribe to the study you’ll be able to scrutinize the data at the level of your – and every – institution too).

Figure 1
What proportion of graduates do you think get ‘graduate level jobs’ within the first six months of graduation from your university?

Average across… 2007/08 2008/09 2009/10 2010/11 2011/12 2012/13
All students 61% 61% 59% 59% 57% 60%
Students at ‘traditional’ HEIs 65% 64% 63% 63% 62% 64%
Students at ‘modern’ HEIs 57% 57% 54% 54% 52% 56%
Base: Higher Expectations – All students 2007/08 (12,382), 2008/09 (11,187), 2009/10 (11,288), 2010/11 (11,872), 2011/12 (13,009), 2012/13 (12,286)
All students at ‘traditional’ HEIs 2007/08 (7,404), 2008/09 (6,901), 2009/10 (6,838), 2010/11 (6,964), 2011/12 (7,122), 2012/13 (6,678)
All students at ‘modern’ HEIs 2007/08 (4,592), 2008/09 (3,949), 2009/10 (4,076), 2010/11 (4,499), 2011/12 (5,373), 2012/13 (5,086)

But how do perceptions of employability map to actual employability outcomes at individual universities? We looked at the results of the latest published DLHE survey (via The Times and Sunday Times League Table) for each institution. We then looked at perceptions of employability at each institution in our Higher Expectations 2012/13 study. Although we recognise that these aren’t, strictly speaking, ‘like-for-like’ comparisons1 , we feel these provide a useful indication of how perceptions compare to the reality.

Figure 2: Perceived graduate employment vs. actual graduate prospects

Perceived graduate employment vs. actual graduate prospects

X-Axis: Graduate Prospects (data derived from the HESA Destination of Leavers from HE (DLHE) Record based on 2012 graduates). Source: The Times and Sunday Times University League Table
Y-Axis: Higher Expectations 2012/13 EMP3c – What proportion of graduates do you think get ‘graduate level jobs’ within the first six months of graduation? – From your university

Figure 2 above shows a positive correlation (see line of best fit) which, quite reasonably, suggests that in general expectations are higher amongst students at universities with stronger employment outcomes. However, if we take a closer look and compare individual institutions, there are very many outliers, where strong real employment outcomes have not been recognised by the institution’s own new students. For example, University A and University B have similar actual employment rates, yet new first year students at University A believe that around 80% of their institution’s leavers achieve a graduate level job within six months, far higher than the proportion amongst University B’s new first year students where the average was 57% – a vast difference in perceptions at two universities with very similar real outcomes.

Conclusions

Perceptions of employability amongst students across the UK were clearly affected by the economic downturn, but starting last year there have been significant signs of improvement pointing to more up-beat expectations. In reality there are big differences in graduate employability outcomes at different universities – this is shown by the DLHE survey. And our Higher Expectations data also measures big differences in perceptions of employability at different universities. In general these map to each other quite well. But sometimes they don’t. Sometimes the reality of excellent graduate employment prospects isn’t feeding in to student perceptions.

With the increasing importance of future employability in decision making institutions that do well in terms of employability outcomes, yet fail to communicate this effectively, could be squandering a great competitive advantage.

Higher Expectations will continue to monitor perceptions of future employability year-on-year. For information on how your institution measures up, contact me for more information.

John Newton, (Senior Project Manager, Higher Education)
john@youthsight.com
020 7288 8789

 

Notes

  1. The DLHE statistics record the proportion of graduates at each university who entered professional employment or graduate level further study six months after graduating. Higher Expectations focuses on the perceived levels of graduates in ‘graduate level jobs’ within six months from each institution

YouthSight owns the consumer access panel for higher education: 70,000 current students, 18,000 graduates and 17,000 applicants and 10,000 other young people.

We’ve completed hundreds of projects for our HE clients, helping over 90 universities and HE organisations obtain the insights and data they need to drive important decisions. We’ve helped policy bodies collect evidence for ground breaking reports, we’ve helped marketing directors develop winning strategies and we’ve helped Deans to create new early stage course propositions that genuinely meet market needs.

Our portfolio of products is based on a clear understanding of the needs of HE professionals combined with a sophisticated approach to the ‘tools of our trade’, including qualitative and quantitative interviews, regression & key driver analysis, Price Sensitivity Meter and choice-based conjoint or trade-off techniques. Here are some of our key products and approaches:

 

More HE research snippets
HE research solutionsy
Clients and case studies

Related Posts

HE Research Snippet 26 – Just How Much Do Parents Effect Uni Choice?...

7th August 2017

How do young people work with their parents when choosing where to study? Do parents collaborate or impose? Are there consistent and predict...

HE Research Snippet 25 – Video Insights Into The New PG Loan...

28th March 2017

We think the new PG loan is big news.  It was introduced in 2016 with the aim of boosting the stagnating PGT enrollment numbers[1], especia...

HE Research Snippet 24 – Could tackling the gender pay gap help unive...

1st September 2016

Gender pay inequality is big news. Last week’s IFS’s report on the topic dominated the headlines. In her inaugural speech as Prime Minis...

HE Research Snippet 23 – For PGT, The Importance Of Reputation Is Onl...

23rd June 2016

When choosing a university for a postgraduate degree, reputation becomes more important for many prospective postgraduates. YouthSight’s s...

HE Research Snippet 22 – Links with industry and placement opportunti...

26th May 2016

The sector has crossed a symbolic line. For the first time our Higher Expectations survey has recorded that, when selecting where to study, ...

HE Research Snippet 21 – When it comes to university choices, parents are...

19th April 2016

Our HE Research Snippets reveal interesting findings from YouthSight’s HE team. Please contact James MacGregor, Director of Higher Educati...

HE Research Snippet 20 – Just How Important Is Community Membership For F...

18th November 2015

Our HE Research Snippets reveal interesting findings from YouthSight’s HE team. Please contact James MacGregor, Director of Higher Educati...

HE Research Snippet 19 – Clearing students need your love...

25th August 2015

Research Snippets: Our monthly Research Snippets look at interesting and topical findings unearthed by the HE team at YouthSight. See all o...