Differences in student degree and employment outcomes

28 Mar 2018 01:47 PM

This report examines how outcomes vary for different student groups based on a range of factors including gender, disability, educational disadvantage, age, ethnicity and entry qualifications. For the first time this data also includes outcomes for BTEC students.

Degree outcomes

Differences in degree outcomes on the basis of gender, disability and educational disadvantage (Note 1) have remained fairly consistent over the last four years:

There has been a small reduction in the difference in degree outcomes between different ethnic groups, but significant gaps still remain:

Degree outcomes for BTEC students

There is a clear relationship between degree classification and entry qualifications. The higher the entry grade, the higher the degree classifications.

The proportion of A-level students entering university with A*A*A* who gain a first or upper second class degree is 95 per cent, compared with 67 per cent for those with A-levels at CCD or below.

The proportion gaining a first or upper second class degree with three Distinction*s (D*D*D*) at BTEC is 71 per cent, and 49 per cent for those with three merits (MMM).

Employment outcomes

The proportion of graduates in graduate employment or further study, as measured by the Destinations of Leavers from Higher Education survey (Note 2) is higher among those with a first than those with a third-class degree. Overall the gap between graduates of different ethnicities and different educational disadvantage backgrounds has decreased, but the gender and disability gap has slightly increased.


  1. The analysis, ‘Differences in student outcomes: The effect of student characteristics’ (HEFCE 2018/05), is based on the degree outcomes of graduates who graduated in 2016-17, and the employment outcomes of those who graduated in 2015-16.
  2. The Destinations of Leavers from Higher Education survey collects information on what all leavers from higher education programmes are doing six months after qualifying from their course.
  3. The main population in this report is UK-domiciled and consists of 275,800 first degree graduates who obtained a degree classification.
  4. The National Collaborative Outreach Programme aims to support the most disadvantaged young people in England to progress into higher education.
  5. The Addressing barriers to success programme funds projects in universities and colleges to support students most affected by differential outcomes.