The Small Business, Employment and Enterprise Act 2015 enabled the UK government, for the first time, to link higher education and tax data together to chart the transition of graduates from higher education into the workplace. The Department for Education (DfE) commissioned the Department for Work and Pensions ( DWP) to link Higher Education Statistics Agency ( HESA) records for the whole of the UK to the tax and benefits records.
This experimental statistics release presents employment and earnings outcomes for leavers of higher education five years after graduation. This publication is the first release in Scotland, to use the Longitudinal Education Outcomes ( LEO) dataset to track higher education graduates as they move from higher education into the workplace.
Further information on graduate destinations and earnings is available in the HESA publication, 'Destinations of Leavers from Higher Education ( DLHE)' which covers the period 6 months after graduation and is published annually and the biennial 'Destinations of Leavers from Higher Education Longitudinal' publication which covers the period 3 years after graduation.
This publication looks at those who graduated with a first degree qualification from UK higher education institutions ( HEIs), concentrating on those classified as UK domiciled prior to entry to higher education. Figures are presented for all first degree graduates and have not been split by full-time or part-time modes of study. On average, matching of over 95 per cent of each graduate cohort to tax and/or benefit data have been achieved.
The employment data covers those with records submitted through the Pay As You Earn ( PAYE) system. The core purpose of PAYE is to collect tax and its coverage reflects this. Up until April 2013, employers were not required to supply information to HMRC for individuals who earned below the Lower Earnings Limit ( LEL) for National Insurance contributions, although for large employers these individuals were thought to be included due to the methods of data transfer. Since then, employers have been required to provide earnings information for all employees if even one employee of the company is paid above the LEL threshold.
The PAYE system does not collect information on the number of hours worked; therefore, whether an individual is working full-time or part-time cannot be ascertained.
All figures are based on UK tax, benefit and student records only: activity of those who move abroad to work or study after graduating is not reflected in the employment or further study figures. Instead, these individuals are categorised as 'activity not captured'.
Years after graduation
The time periods  used in this publication are five years after graduation. This refers to the first full tax year after graduation. So, for the 2008/09 graduation cohort the figures five year after graduation refer to employment/earnings outcomes in the 2014/15 tax year. This time period was picked as using the tax year which overlaps with the graduation date would mean that graduates are unlikely to have been engaged in economic activity for the whole tax year. This is displayed graphically in figure 1 below.
Figure 1: Relationship between academic year, tax year, and definitions of 'years after graduation' used in this publication