About our data

The data on Discover Uni are official statistics created for this purpose. This page explains where that data comes from and the approach we take to publishing it.

The National Student Survey (NSS) is an annual survey which allows final year students to provide feedback about their experience at university or college. The results are used by universities and colleges to improve the student experience and can also help applicants to decide between courses.

The survey is run by Ipsos MORI on behalf of the UK higher education funding and regulatory bodies.

Students respond to statements using a five-point scale from 'definitely disagree' to 'definitely agree'. The numbers you see on Discover Uni are the percentage of students who either responded 'definitely agree' or 'agree' to each statement.

Impact of the Covid-19 pandemic?

Some data is from students surveyed during the Covid-19 pandemic, which may have had an effect on their responses. Most institutions, courses and students have needed to change their approach in some way – for example by delivering lectures online instead of in-person. Some courses and institutions have been affected more than others, for example practical or lab-based courses. The NSS survey invites students to reflect on their student experience as a whole – and it may be assumed that many responded on that basis. However, the pandemic was clearly on some students’ minds.

Analysis shows us that there were some variations across the data compared to previous years. The NSS data on Discover Uni is therefore from the 2021 survey only.

Previously, we have shown data taken from the most recent year or combined together over two years when there are not enough students in one year of data for us to publish it. Because of the potential impact of the pandemic on survey responses, this year we are only showing data for the latest survey. You will therefore not see any survey data for two years (it will be one year for a course or one year for a subject).

Before we publish any figures based on the NSS we first ensure that there are at least 10 people who responded for the course or subject being reported and that they make up at least half (50%) of the people who could have responded.

Results from the 2021 NSS show:

  • Despite the pandemic and subsequent lockdowns, response rates for the core survey questions remained high at 69.3 per cent. We received 332,500 responses.
  • The majority of students rated their overall experience of their courses positively. Overall, 75 per cent agreed that they were satisfied with the quality of their course, down from 83 per cent last year.
  • That more university and college students had concerns about their educational experience this year compared to last year, the survey highlighting particular issues around the availability of learning resources for students.

The Graduate Outcomes (GO) survey collects information from students 15 months after they finish their course. It asks them what they are currently doing, how much they are earning, and their perceptions of work following their graduation from their course. Our ‘earnings and employment’ page provides more information on how to use the data provided on Discover Uni.

The data we show on Discover Uni is from the most recent Graduate Outcomes survey which covers graduates who finished their higher education courses between August 2018 and July 2019.

We use Graduate Outcomes data to compile the statistics in several sections on our course pages. Before we publish any figures based on the Graduate Outcomes survey, we first ensure that there are at least 10 people who responded for the course or subject being reported and that they make up at least half (50%) of the people who could have responded.

Impact of the Covid-19 pandemic?

While the graduates surveyed were not the students who graduated into the pandemic, the Covid-19 pandemic will, for many graduates, have set the scene for an important early stage of their careers.

The 2018/19 survey was undertaken over four different stages: some were surveyed before the pandemic had been declared, and others when different levels of restrictions were in place. However, it is unclear as to whether the changes to results compared with the 2017/18 survey results are directly attributable to the pandemic.

In the ‘Earnings after the course’ section

In this section, Graduate Outcomes data is used to present the average earnings of graduates 15 months after they finish their course.

You can also use the drop-down menu to view Graduate Outcomes earnings data at UK level or national level (England, Northern Ireland, Scotland or Wales). This data has been published to provide context. This means that you can see the average earnings for graduates from all courses in the subject that live or work in the selected location. Because earnings are higher or lower than average in some regions, we also include the percentage of graduates from the institution that are based in the chosen region. This gives an indication of whether the regional figure you have chosen is a good benchmark for the institution.

Please note that we do not include earnings data for those that are self-employed.

You will also find earnings data in this section from the Longitudinal Educational Outcomes (LEO) dataset. We have used LEO data to present the earnings for the same group of students three and five years after their graduation. Please see the LEO section below for more details. All of the earnings information in this section has been treated and summarised in similar ways to make comparisons as meaningful as possible.

In the ‘Employment 15 months after the course’ section

Graduate Outcomes data is used to show the percentages of graduates who are working, studying, working and studying, and unemployed, 15 months after completing their course.

You will also see the type of occupations that these graduates are working in, 15 months after graduating from the course and whether these are considered high-skilled (meaning they are considered to be professional or managerial occupations by the Office for National Statistics). Occupations have been classified using the Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) 2020 system.

In the ‘Graduate Perceptions’ section

Here you will find the percentages of graduates who, at 15 months after graduation, agreed that what they learned on their course was useful for what they were currently doing, that they found their work meaningful, and that their work fits with their future plans.

Experimental statistics

The Graduate Outcomes data published on Discover Uni is experimental statistics. This is because the survey and statistics it provides are new. It does not mean that the data is of low quality.

You can find out more about the Graduate Outcomes survey, and how it is used, on the Graduate Outcomes website.

We welcome feedback on how useful the statistics are and what can be done to improve them. You can find out more about how the statistics are produced and provide feedback on theOffice for Students website.

The Longitudinal Education Outcomes (LEO) dataset uses government tax records to find earnings data for graduates. It does not rely on graduates responding to a survey. Because it is based on PAYE tax records it is more complete than self-reported survey data. We do not publish LEO data for individual courses, this earnings data is always grouped into subject areas for two years’ worth of graduates.

In the ‘Earnings after the course’ section

We use LEO data in this section on the course pages on Discover Uni to show earnings data for the same group of students three and five years after their graduation. The data published is for the subject areas the course covers for all graduates at the institution offering the course, not the specific course itself.

You will also be able to use the drop-down menu to see LEO earnings data at UK level (excluding graduates from Northern Irish institutions); national level (England, Scotland or Wales); regions within England and core cities in Wales and Scotland. Data for Northern Ireland is not included because data from Northern Irish graduates is not included in the LEO dataset.

You can see the average earnings and typical range for graduates from all courses in the subject that live or work in the selected location. This data has been published to let you view how the subject earnings for the institution compare to the earnings of all graduates in that subject for the chosen region. Because earnings can be higher or lower than average in some regions, we also include the percentage of graduates from the chosen institution and subject that are based in the region. This gives an indication of whether the regional figure you have chosen to view is a good benchmark for the institution.

You will also find salary data in this section from the Graduate Outcomes (GO) dataset. Please see the Graduate Outcomes section above for more details. All of the earnings information in this section has been treated and summarised in a similar way to make comparisons as meaningful as possible.

About the LEO data displayed on Discover Uni

There are some things you should be aware of when using the LEO data on Discover Uni:

  • We only publish LEO data for courses taught at English, Scottish and Welsh universities and colleges. LEO data is not available for courses in Northern Ireland.
  • The LEO data shows how much graduates working in the UK were earning three years and five years after graduating. The data shows these statistics for the same cohort of students.
  • The data includes taxable income for those who had tax deducted at source by their employer. It does not include earnings for those who were self-employed.
  • The data published is for the subject area of the course over two tax years.
  • The data contains earnings for both full time and part time workers, meaning figures may appear lower where more graduates are choosing to work part time.
  • As the most recent earnings data we have is from 2017-18 and 2018-19 tax records, the data displayed is for earnings of students who graduated during the 2011-12 and 2012-2013 academic years.

Our ‘employment and earnings’ page provides more information on how to use the earnings data provided on Discover Uni.

Experimental statistics

The LEO figures published on Discover Uni are labelled as experimental statistics. This tells our users that the statistics are new. It does not mean that they are of low quality.

You can find out more about how the statistics are produced and provide feedback on the Office for Students website.

The LEO data used on Discover Uni is owned by the Department for Education (DfE). The DfE do not accept responsibility for any inferences or conclusions derived from the LEO data by third parties.

The UK higher education funding and regulatory bodies collect data from universities and colleges about all their individual students. We use this data to create some of the statistics we use.

The datasets we use are the:

HESA Student record

HESA AP Student record

Individualised Learner Record collected by Education and Skills Funding Agency

and the data we use is for the academic years 2017-18, 2018-19, and 2019-20 unless otherwise specified.

Continuation

We use this data to tell you what students are doing one year after starting the course. The number of students still studying is called the ‘continuation rate’. These figures are based on the percentage of students starting in 2017-18 and continuing into 2018-19 and from 2018-19 continuing into 2019-20.

It’s not unusual for some students to leave during their first year. While it is good to see higher numbers of students continuing on a course after one year, there can be many reasons for students deciding to take a break or leave the course. It is important to remember this is a snapshot in time – not a trend for a course. If the continuation rate is much lower than other courses this could be a sign that the course is not meeting students’ expectations.

Entry information

This shows the qualifications and tariff point values previous entrants had (it is not the entry requirements for a course). It gives a picture of the range of qualifications held and the ‘grades’ achieved by those starting the course. Remember, decisions by institutions to offer places to applicants are made based on a range of criteria – not just the qualifications or grades achieved.

The data on UCAS Tariff points is the average for qualifications based on entrants in the 2019-20 academic year, and sometimes 2018-19 and 2019-20 entrants combined when the course or subject sizes are too small to publish for a single year.

It is important to know that some universities and colleges accept a wider range of qualifications for entry to their courses, some of which are not accounted for in the UCAS Tariff points. This means that the tariff points data we show for some courses may not reflect the value and grades achieved by some students accepted onto the course. This may affect the majority of courses at some institutions with higher proportions of international or non-UK intake.

For more information about UCAS Tariff and entry requirements, see our Entry requirements page.

Using data in your decision making

The data that we publish on Discover Uni is from reliable sources and can help you make an informed decision.

It’s important that you don’t make decisions based on small differences between courses. Instead look for large differences, and particularly where figures are much lower than for other courses you are considering. Find out more about comparing courses.

Sample sizes and response rates

On Discover Uni we tell you how many students the data we publish is from and, if it was from a survey, the response rate.

These numbers might be smaller than you expect, as we try to publish data for the course and not all courses have large numbers of students on them.

A high response rate from a large number of students means you can be more confident in the data. With smaller numbers, it is especially important that you don’t make decisions based on small differences.

We only publish data if we have it for more than a certain number of students. This is partly to protect their identity and partly to ensure the reliability of what we publish. For surveys, we also don’t publish data if response rates are low.

For most of the data, we need data from at least 10 students to publish it. For LEO, we need at least 15 students.

Small courses

For many smaller courses, we may not have data from enough students to be able to publish it. So that we can show some data, we group data for courses in the same subject area at that university or college.

We say where we have done this on the course page and course comparison tool.

Joint honours and courses with data for multiple subjects

Some courses cover more than one subject area, sometimes leading to an award known as joint honours (such as “BSc Mathematics and Computer Science”). Where a course has more than one subject, we try to present data items based only on the people studying that course.

Sometimes if there are not enough people studying the course, or not enough of them reply to a survey, we include data for everyone at the institution studying courses that include those subjects. For instance, this means in our example above we would present figures separately for Mathematics and for Computer Science. These are presented as tabs on the course pages. Some very broad courses with open choices between lots of modules can have as many as five subject areas, or even more.

When thinking about a course where multiple subject level figures are presented, it is important to look at all the subjects. You should also think about how these subject figures may reflect the course you are looking at, which perhaps only represent a small number of students within those subject areas.

New courses

Where courses are new or don’t have any students who have finished them yet, we publish data for other courses in that subject area. This is to give you some idea of the student experience and outcomes at that university and college.

Again, we say where we have done this on the course page.

Rounding

We publish National Student Survey data to the nearest percentage point. For other data, if we have data for fewer than 52.5 people, we round the data to the nearest five percentage points. The numbers of people are also always rounded to the nearest five.

This can mean that the figures shown do not always add to 100 percent. The total may instead be 95 percent or 105 percent when you add them together.

Feedback

We would welcome feedback on how useful the statistics are and what can be done to improve them. You can contact us using our contact details on the 'about Discover Uni' page.

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