About our data

The data on Discover Uni are official statistics compiled from reliable sources and published here to help potential students to make informed decisions about their course and university/college choices.

The data is taken from national surveys and data collected from universities and colleges about all their students.

This page explains where the data comes from and the approach we take to publishing it.

The National Student Survey (NSS) is an annual survey which asks 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.

The survey is one of the largest of its kind in the world. It asks students in the UK questions about a range of factors related to their academic experience, including the teaching on their course, assessment and feedback, and how well courses are organised. New direct questions with item-specific response scales have also been introduced to improve students’ understanding and to enhance the accuracy of results.

About the 2023 survey

The National Student Survey was updated in 2023 following a major review and consultation. As a result, the survey questions and response scales have changed for NSS 2023. The updated survey asks students in the UK questions about a range of factors related to their academic experience, including the teaching on their course, assessment and feedback, and how well courses are organised. The 2023 survey also asked students about mental wellbeing services and, in England, about freedom of expression for the first time. New direct questions with item-specific response scales have been introduced to improve students’ understanding and to enhance the accuracy of results.

The changes include:

  • For most questions in the survey, respondents were asked to answer direct questions on a four-point positivity measure, ranging from ‘very well’ to ‘not very well’, and a further option: ‘This does not apply to me’.
  • a new question on mental wellbeing services
  • a new question on ‘Freedom of expression’, which is asked to students in England only
  • the ‘Overall satisfaction’ question is asked to students in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland only.

Read more about the NSS review and consultation on the Office for Students (OfS) website.

Results from the 2023 NSS:

  • Results from this year’s National Student Survey show a 71.5 per cent overall response rate, with over 339,000 students completing the survey on their experiences of higher education.

Due to the changes in the questions and response options, the 2023 NSS results cannot be straightforwardly compared with those from earlier years. In particular, the removal of the “neutral” response option in 2023 means that we would expect more students to respond positively in 2023, regardless of any change in the student experience.

Students have engaged with the new questionnaire. Response rates remain high, and in-survey drop-out rates low. Students have used the full-range of response options, and rarely report that a question does not apply to them.

This survey was carried out during the period 11 January to 30 April 2023, but the final year students surveyed will have experienced disruption during their course from the COVID lockdown measures and some may have faced disruption from industrial action affecting teaching and assessments. A review of the NSS results showed no evidence of unexpected volatility in the results. 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, so the impact of the pandemic and industrial action may be on some students’ minds.

Read the full 2023 results on the Office for Students (OfS) NSS pages and view the NSS results at course level on Discover Uni.

NSS course data on Discover Uni

Discover Uni publishes data for the following questions:

  • Teaching on my course
  • Learning opportunities
  • Assessment and feedback
  • Academic support
  • Organisation and management
  • Learning resources
  • Student voice
  • Mental wellbeing services
  • Freedom of expression (for students in England only)
  • Overall satisfaction (for students in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales only)

Previously, we have shown data taken from the most recent year or combined over two years when there are not enough students in one year of data for us to publish it. However, the NSS in 2023 is a completely new version of the survey, so many questions are new, or the wording has been changed. Even though some of the questions are the same (or very similar), the response options are different. You can see the NSS 2023 questionnaire and further information on the 2023 NSS dataset on the OfS website. As the 2023 survey has been updated, it is not valid to either compare question responses or combine data from the NSS 2023 with those from previous years. Therefore, the NSS data displayed on Discover Uni is for a single year, taken from students who were in their final year of their higher education course during the academic year 2022-2023.

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.

In some cases, there may not be enough data available for a course to publish it, or the course may have multiple instances of data associated with it (for example, some joint honours courses). In these cases, we may group data for that subject over two years instead. Please see our ‘understanding the data’ section below for more information about how we display the data on our course pages.

Glasgow Caledonian University

Due to a survey administration error in NSS 2023, question 28 ('Overall Satisfaction') was not asked of the majority of survey respondents from Glasgow Caledonian University. We have therefore replaced the Glasgow Caledonian results for this question with the results for the Overall Student Satisfaction question in the 2022 survey. This is clearly labelled on all courses for this institution. All other NSS results we publish for courses at Glasgow Caledonian University are from the 2023 NSS survey. The error was not the fault of the provider and does not reflect on the quality of the provider. No other providers or questions were affected by this error.

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. This survey is undertaken by the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA).

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 2020 and July 2021. This is sometimes combined with survey data from the previous Graduate Outcomes survey (of 2019-20 graduates). We combine two years of survey data when there are not enough students in the most recent year of data for us to publish it. It will be noted on each course page whether the data is using one year or two years of survey data.

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.

HESA, who undertook the survey, reviewed the survey data for impacts of the pandemic on the experience of these graduates. HESA found little change in the data which could be firmly attributed to the pandemic rather than normal year-on-year variation.

HESA’s review arrived at the following key findings:

  • Although response rates vary across the student cohorts surveyed, they saw no major changes in response rate that are likely to be related to COVID-19
  • The survey results continued the 2019/20 trend towards recovery
  • The 2020/21 rate of full-time employment is the highest since the start of the Graduate Outcomes survey.
  • 2020/21 graduates are more likely than 2019/20 graduates to be in full-time work and less likely to be unemployed or in full-time further study.
  • HESA see very little overall change in graduates’ reflections on their activities.

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.

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 the Office for Students website.

Update to the Earnings data for 3- and 5-years after graduation

The ‘Earnings after the course’ data for 3 years and 5 years after graduation was updated on Discover Uni on 23 November 2023 when new data was published by the Department for Education (DfE).  The new data is for students who graduated during 2013-15 and replaces data which was for students who graduated during 2012-2014.

How will the data about earnings on Discover Uni be affected?

There have not been any significant changes to the LEO earnings data beyond what would be normal year-on-year earnings variations of people, including graduates. Please note, however, that there may be changes between the 'Earnings after the course' data that was displayed on the site between October and November 2023, and the updated data that replaced it on 23 November 2023 and is currently displayed.


The Longitudinal Education Outcomes dataset

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. We only publish when we have LEO data for at least 15 graduates.
  • 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.

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

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

The data we use is for the academic years 2019-20, 2020-21, and 2021-22 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 2019-20 and continuing into 2020-21 and from 2020-21 continuing into 2021-22.

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 held by previous entrants (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 2021-22 academic year, and sometimes 2020-21 and 2021-22 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.

Accreditation

An accredited course is one which has been approved or endorsed by one or more professional bodies. This means the learning and achievement of graduates meets the professional benchmarks and standards set by the accrediting body. If you’re studying to get into a particular career, you may need to take a course with professional accreditation, or sometimes accreditations show that employers endorse the course. This means that they recognise it gives students skills and knowledge for employment in a particular sector or job role.

The information provided on Discover Uni course pages is a summary of the accreditation and the value of these to students, such as it being prescribed for practise as a professional in a specific field. Each listed accreditation links to further information on the professional body’s website. Providers submit the accreditation information for their courses, selecting from a list of approved and/or prescribed accreditations including those set by the Professional Statutory and Regulatory Bodies (PSBRs). You can see any professional accreditations, and what these mean for students, on our course pages and find further information on the professional body’s website.

See further information on professional accreditations.

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.

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. Read our guidance on how to compare 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.

Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF)

The Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) is a national scheme run by the Office for Students (OfS) that aims to encourage higher education providers to improve and deliver excellence in the areas that students care about the most: teaching, learning and achieving positive outcomes from their studies.

The TEF does this by assessing and rating universities and colleges for excellence above a set of minimum requirements for quality and standards. Providers that take part in the TEF receive an overall rating as well as two underpinning ratings – one for the student experience and one for student outcomes.

The TEF results will be published on the provider information pages from mid-October. You can access these by clicking on the institution name on each course page. Find out more about the TEF on the Office for Students website.

The TEF is an exercise facilitated by the Office for Students in England. Universities and Colleges in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are able to participate in the TEF on a voluntary basis.

Quality Assurance Agency (QAA)

The Quality Assurance Agency (QAA) is the designated quality body in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

The QAA monitors the quality and standards of the teaching in universities and colleges on behalf of the funding and regulatory bodies in each nation. The QAA completes quality assurance reviews and publishes a report to summarise their findings. The QAA reports can be found on the provider pages on Discover Uni which you can access by clicking on the institution name on each course page. Find out more about quality and standards.

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