HEFCE survey: What are last year's graduates up to now?

How sure are students of their next step after graduation? According to a study by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE), over two-thirds of 2015 graduates who had no clear plans on what to do after completing their Bachelors degree ended up pursuing their postgraduate studies.

The Intentions After Graduation Survey (IAGS) revealed that a large proportion of those who go on to postgraduate study did not have firm plans to do so just months earlier, with just over a third (36 percent) of postgraduate entrants in 2015-16 indicating an intention to study at postgraduate level in spring 2015.

The survey questioned graduates and final year undergraduate students at English higher education institutions to compare the current cohort’s post-graduation plans with those from previous years, as well as to see whether they would go on to carry out their intended plans after completing their studies.


Overall, of those who said they intended to continue to postgraduate study after graduation in spring 2015, 67 percent actually did so.

One of the key findings of the report showed that ethnic minority graduates were less likely than white graduates to fulfil their intentions to go on to postgraduate study.

However, researchers also found that white students are the least likely to intend to do postgraduate study, while students of Chinese background are the most likely to have the intention and the most likely to follow through on it – 88 percent of the Chinese students who intended to immediately go on to postgraduate study were doing so within six months following graduation.

Students from disadvantaged backgrounds were also less likely to fulfil their postgraduate ambitions: the survey found that the factors most likely to deter students from continuing to postgraduate study were high course fees, cost of living, and fear of debt.

A student’s eventual degree class upon graduation also appears to have an effect on their post-graduation plans, with graduates achieving lower classifications more likely to change their plans and go into work instead.

As for the 2016 graduate cohort, nearly half plan to work after graduation, though over two-thirds of respondents said that they would be likely or very likely pursue postgraduate studies if a postgraduate loan of around £10,000 were introduced.

Image via Shutterstock 

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