Surveys are sound

February 14, 2003

Jim Taylor's criticism of performance indicators for the employment of graduates is based on a number of inaccurate assumptions ("Graduate jobs data deemed flawed", THES , February 7).

The article alleges that "methods used to collect the data differ between universities, and there is no accuracy check". This is incorrect.

Before producing these indicators, a data audit was commissioned to check the methods used, and tighter rules of collection were introduced for the survey from which the first set of employment indicators was produced.

Subsequent surveys have also been audited.

The article also states that the benchmarks for the employment indicators ignore location. This is not true: benchmarks include two institutional factors that are based on employment in the locality.

Taylor's comments are based on out-of-date perceptions of the way employment figures are collected.

He seems unaware of the survey, the Destinations of Leavers from Higher Education, which will replace the First Destination Survey for this year's graduates.

This new survey will include information on job quality, and there will be a follow-up survey of a sample of students three years after graduation.

John Rushforth
Director (widening participation)
Higher Education Funding Council for England

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