New HEFCE study explores how students’ background affects their ambitions after graduation

A survey of the intentions of nearly 140,000 graduates finds few differences between what students from different backgrounds plan to do after graduation, but does find differences in how likely they are to fulfil their ambitions. The introduction of postgraduate loans might help to close the gap.

The Intentions After Graduation Survey (IAGS) asks final year undergraduate students at English higher education institutions what they plan to do after university [Note 1]. HEFCE has analysed how the responses of those graduating in 2016 compare with previous years, and also how the intentions of those who graduated in 2015 matched what they actually did.

The key findings of these analyses are about the intention to go on to postgraduate study. These include the following:

  • Black and Asian graduates were less likely than white graduates to fulfil their intentions to go on to postgraduate study.
  • Fewer students from disadvantaged backgrounds who said they would do postgraduate study actually did. Among those who intended to go on, the proportion who did so was 9 percentage points lower than for the least disadvantaged graduates.
  • Over two-thirds of all respondents to IAGS in 2016 said that they would be likely or very likely to study at postgraduate level if a postgraduate loan of around £10,000 was introduced [Note 2].
  • The factors most likely to deter students from continuing to postgraduate study were course fees and the overall cost of living. These concerns were greatest among students from the most disadvantaged areas, and these students were especially likely to say that postgraduate loans would encourage them to study further. Read More