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The Destination of Leavers from Higher Education (DLHE) survey (DLHE) (guidance from UNISTATS)

The Destination of Leavers from Higher Education (DLHE) survey asks those who have recently completed higher education courses about their current activity, which may be working, studying, looking for work or even travelling.

Those who are employed are asked for a description of their role and the kind of company they work for so that the nature of their employment can be understood and classified appropriately. They are also asked how much they are paid.

As well as providing information to prospective students about the destinations and earnings of those previously completing courses they are considering applying for, the data collected help to give a picture of patterns of further study and how destinations differ across subjects.

Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) survey their students under direction from the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) while Further Education Colleges (FECs) fund and administer the survey for directly funded HE students and return the data to HEFCE. Students studying on courses in further education colleges (FECs), which are franchised from HEIs, are included in HEIs' DLHE survey data. 

Students are surveyed roughly six months after completing their course and response rates are high, with around 80% of eligible graduates responding. The information collected in the survey is self-reported by students, or by other people they have nominated to respond on their behalf.

A further survey, the Longitudinal DLHE, follows up a sample of these respondents three and a half years (40 months) later. The response rate to this is about 40%.

Data from both surveys is displayed on Unistats, with the data for the Longitudinal DLHE being shown for all similar courses as it is based on a sample of all graduates, in contrast to the early survey which is a broad census.

While graduate employment in the future may shift from current patterns, destination information for those previously completing the course is among those factors rated most important in making decisions by users of the site.

In the DLHE survey, jobs that graduates report doing are classified using the Standard Occupational Classification 2010 (SOC2010) system.

The SOC system has eleven groupings of which groups 1-3 are used to define "professional or managerial jobs" as shown on Unistats.

Graduates by major SOC group

  • Managers and senior officials
  • Professional occupations
  • Associate professional and technical occupations
  • Administrative and secretarial occupations
  • Skilled trades occupations
  • Personal service occupations
  • Sales and customer service occupations
  • Process, plant and machine operatives
  • Elementary occupation
  • Unknown
  • All occupations

HEFCE have worked with the Higher Education Careers Support Unit (HECSU) to develop a guide to understanding the how the information from the DLHE survey is used and what the data can tell us.