Institution analysis background

bestCourse4me shows two linked data sets from the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) and the Office for National Statistics (ONS)’s Labour Force Survey (LFS) on our site. Our aim is to show longitudinal salary and career outcomes linked to the university course studied.

Historically the Labour Force Survey collected data on subject studied at university, but not on the institution attended. That meant that there was no data collected anywhere in the UK that showed what lifetime outcomes linked to institution attended looked like.

In 2011, Steve Edwards OBE, the founder and funder of bestCourse4me, worked closely with the BIS Ministerial Group on Data Sharing and the Minister of State for Universities and Science to successfully lobby for an Institution question to be added to the Labour Force Survey.

The data started being collected in 2012 and the cell sizes (the number of people from the survey data that are in each category or "cell") are now large enough in some cases for analysis of the data to be undertaken. Access to this data set is limited (primarily to academics), so the analysis here is the first that the public will see. Due to the limited amount of time that the data on institution has been collected, the cell sizes are within the acceptable limits for release but they are still small.

The data has allowed us to analyse how salaries differ for different university groups and non-graduates, how UCAS entry points correlate with lifetime salary outcomes, regional differences in salaries for different university groups and non-graduates, the representation of various university groups and non-graduates in nine LFS career categories, the proportion of graduates and non-graduates in different careers, and the average salary by career for various university groups and non-graduates.

Because of the rules about cell size, not all data can be displayed on all of the charts. Also, the ONS does not allow individual universities to be identified, and so any values with a definite owner need to belong to groups of 3 or more universities, such as Russell Group, Northern 8, etc. We have included non-graduate outcomes on all of the graphs for comparison. The salary figures are adjusted for inflation.

There are two groups – global top 20 and global 25 – that are taken from the Times Higher Education’s World University Rankings 2015-2016.  The groups list the UK universities that are in the global top 20 and global top 25.  The UK universities in the global top 20 are: Oxford, Cambridge, Imperial College London and University College London.  The UK universities in the global top 25 are the global top 20 plus LSE and Edinburgh.

The nine career headings shown in the graphs are the categories used by the Office for National Statistics, called the Level 1 Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) Hierarchy.

Each graph in the analysis shows data for people whose reply to the LFS includes the data relevant for that graph.  As different people might choose to answer different LFS questions, the group of people shown in one graph isn't necessarily exactly the same group of people shown in another graph.  Picking only people who had answered all the relevant questions (across all graphs) led to cell sizes that were too small.

Data relating to UCAS points comes from HESA data; everything else came from the LFS.  Note that university groups can overlap; for instance the University of Manchester is in UK, England, N8 and Russell Group.  Both the global top 20 and global top 25 groups are contained within the Russell Group.

HESA Student record 2005/06 – 2013/2014 and HESA Destinations of Leavers from Higher Education record 2005/06 - 2013/14 are Copyright Higher Education Statistics Agency Limited. Neither the Higher Education Statistics Agency Limited nor HESA Services Limited can accept responsibility for any inferences or conclusions derived by third parties from data or other information supplied by HESA Services.