In last week’s Times Higher, we had one of our rare mentions. However, it wasn’t to publish good news. The most recent data on employment of graduates from the 2012-13 cohort have been published by HESA and these showed:
“According to the Higher Education Statistics Agency, 92.1 per cent of university leavers were in employment or further study six months after graduating in 2012-13, up from 90.8 per cent in the previous year.”
“Universities with the lowest employment and further study rates are London Metropolitan University (81.4 per cent), the University of Bolton (82.4 per cent) and Staffordshire University (84 per cent).”
This doesn’t look great as a headline statistic, particularly with all the work that colleagues have done on promoting the Staffordshire Graduate attributes, in particular the employability programme on a number of champion awards.
I decided to have a look at some of the numbers for the last few years (recognising that we are starting to see an improvement in graduate outcomes and employment as described in league tables) so there seems to be an anomaly, and consult with those who know more than me.
In league tables, the career prospects score relates to percentage in graduate level work and higher level PG while employment indicator in HESA data relates to percentage in (any) work or further study. So it is possible for us to have a comparatively low employment indicator with an improving career prospects score.
So that starts to explain why scores in league tables are different.
Another really important factor, and one which is ignored in the Times Higher article, is that because institutions are not directly comparable, then results cannot be compared directly. The benchmarks for institutions also need to be taken into account, which allow for subject mix etc.
“if the benchmarks were ignored such comparisons would not take account of the effects of different subject profiles or the different entry qualifications of the students. In general, indicators from two institutions should only be compared if the institutions are similar. If the benchmarks are not similar, then this suggests that the subject / entry qualification profiles of the institutions are not the same, and so differences between the indicators could be due to these different profiles rather than to different performances by the two institutions.”
So what we could do is to look at our own performance is consider how our scores differ from our benchmark score. The table below shows this.
|Employment indicator (including further study)|
|+/-||total UK indicator||missed benchmark? (%)|