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Key findings

The latest analysis of the survey takes the form of two reports. The first looks at the 2016 survey responses. It analyses why graduates make the decisions they do, and how many plan to go onto postgraduate (PG) study six months before graduation. 

A second report investigates the actual destinations of those who responded to the 2015 survey. It also looks at whether there is a link between students with certain characteristics and where they do not do as they intend.

Responses to the 2016 survey

The most frequent response to the survey was to 'Look for a job' within the six months following graduation.  

The second largest number of responses expressed an intention to 'Go into further study'. 

Effect of loans and finance

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‘Course fees’, ‘the cost of living’ and ‘a fear of debt’ are the most notable concerns around going onto PG level for UK-domiciled students. Students suggest that ‘additional financial support’ would be the most encouraging factor. How much of an effect the new PG loans may have had on these survey responses is difficult to gauge. 

Over two-thirds of students responded that they would be likely or very likely to study at PG level if a PG loan of around £10,000 were introduced. Black students would be the most likely to go on to study at PG level following the introduction of a PG loan of £10,000.  

While students from low-participation backgrounds (quintile 1 in the Participation of Local Areas (POLAR) measure) would be more likely to reconsider their decision if a PG loan were introduced than students from high-participation backgrounds (POLAR quintile 5).

The proportion of undergraduates intending to continue immediately on to postgraduate study is now at its highest level (9.7 per cent).

2015 survey destinations

Read the report on 2015 destinations

Destination of respondents to the 2015 survey

A large proportion of those who responded to the 2015 survey and went on to PG study did not have firm plans to do so just months earlier.

Just over a third (36 per cent) of PG entrants in 2015-16 had indicated an intention to study at postgraduate level in spring 2015.

Conversely, of those surveyed in spring 2015 who planned to go straight on to PG study, 67 per cent actually did so. Of those ‘Unlikely ever’ to study at PG level, around 9.8 per cent ended up studying or working and studying.

Intentions of graduates to study postgraduate


The match between intentions and destinations is broadly similar for students of different ethnicities, but some differences exist.

Typically, the actual destinations of black and minority ethnic students are more likely to match their intentions. However, we can see notable differences between ethnic groups in this category.

Black students were the lowest proportion to intend to go on to PG study (6.8 per cent) in 2015. Only just over half matched their intention (56 per cent).


Across the different levels of young participation students' intentions are not very different. But their actual destinations are.

The proportion of students who intended to go on to PG study and actually did so was around 9 percentage points lower for those from the least disadvantaged backgrounds compared with those from the most. A higher proportion of those from the most disadvantaged backgrounds ended up working and studying.

Other factors

Neither the age, sex nor the disability status of a student makes a difference to whether their final-year intentions match their actual destinations after graduation.

Having an actual destination that does not match their study intention seems to be correlated with a student’s eventual degree class. Graduates achieving lower classifications are more likely to revise their plans and go into work instead. This difference does not explain the observed differences between students with different characteristics.

Page last updated 14 December 2016