Less than half of students at some English universities can expect to find graduate level jobs or further study shortly after graduation, an analysis suggests.
A new measure, published by the Office for Students (OfS), projects students’ likelihood of finding professional level employment, or embarking on further study, 15 months after they graduate.
The watchdog has found significant differences in the likely job and study outcomes among graduates of different universities and colleges.
At 25 universities and other higher education providers, the measure projects that less than half of students who begin a degree can expect to finish and find professional employment or further study within 15 months of graduation.
Graduates of Birkbeck College in London (31.6%), the University of Bedfordshire (33.5%) and London Metropolitan (39.8%) University were among the least likely to progress into professional employment or further study shortly after graduating, according to the watchdog’s data.
But the measure projects that more than three-quarters of students at 22 universities and other higher education providers will go on to find professional employment or further study shortly after graduation.
University graduates of Imperial College London (91.7%), Oxford (87.7%) and Cambridge (87.4%), were among the most likely to progress into graduate level jobs or further study, the report found.
The watchdog’s measure is calculated by multiplying the percentage of students projected to complete their degree by the percentage who are in professional employment or study 15 months after graduation.
The report also found significant differences depending on the subject that graduates studied.
It suggests 95.5% of medicine and dentistry entrants are projected to find graduate level jobs or further study shortly after leaving university, but the rates are below 55% in six subjects.
Graduates of sociology, social policy and anthropology (48.1%), agriculture, food and related studies (52.2%) and business and management (53.9%) are among those less likely to progress, the data suggests.
Psychology (54%), media, journalism and communications (54.8%), and sport and exercise science (54.8%) graduates also had low progression rates.
The data suggests that business and management graduates at the University of Bedfordshire (14.8%) are among the least likely to secure a graduate-level job or further study while medicine and dentistry graduates from Exeter and Nottingham universities (97.9%) are among the most likely to progress.
Nicola Dandridge, OfS’s chief executive, said the data brings into “sharp focus” that there are “profound differences in outcomes for students, depending on where they study and the subject they choose”.
She said: “While we have no plans to use this indicator for regulatory purposes, we are determined to tackle poor quality provision which offers a raw deal for students.”
Ms Dandridge added: “In publishing this information we recognise that – for many students – finding professional employment after graduation is one of the most important reasons for going to university.
“But it is not the only reason, and it is important to value all the wider benefits of higher education, including the personal development, the cultural richness and exposure to different people and different perspectives that higher education offers.
“Nonetheless, many universities make significant use of data about the employment outcomes for their graduates when marketing their courses. The publication of this independent data will provide further assistance to students in their decision-making.”
Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said: “Everyone, regardless of background or stage of life, should have access to the high quality education they need to make the career choices that work best for them, and lead to successful futures.
“This Government has a manifesto commitment to tackle low quality higher education and drive up standards, and this data proves there is much more work to be done.
“Our landmark Skills Bill makes clear the power of the Office for Students to take much-needed action in this area, including its ability to enforce minimum standards for universities on course completion rates and graduate outcomes, and I look forward to seeing the results of this work.”
A Universities UK (UUK) spokeswoman said: “The overwhelming majority of courses are high quality and offer good value for students.
“The charter universities in England are developing will help universities take consistent and more transparent approaches in tackling low quality or low value courses.
“It is essential that the public has full confidence in the value and quality of a university degree.”