Failed for-profit tops league for graduate unemployment

More than one in eight graduates of GSM London who left two years ago were without a job last autumn

June 24, 2020
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A private provider that was the biggest for-profit college in England for students drawing on government loans before it went bust has topped new UK statistics on graduate unemployment among larger institutions.

More than one in eight graduates of undergraduate courses at GSM London who left two years ago were without a job after 15 months, more than three times the UK average.

The figure comes in the first release of data by provider from the Higher Education Statistics Agency’s new Graduate Outcomes survey, which shows what university leavers were doing more than a year after finishing their course.

In terms of employment outcomes, the data show a wide variation among larger providers, with about a dozen – including universities and private providers – seeing an unemployment rate for graduates that is more than twice the national average.

However, GSM London, England’s biggest for-profit college for students recruited on public loan funding before it went into administration last year, stands out with 60 of its UK leavers from full-time undergraduate courses without a job 15 months later. This was 13 per cent of the 450 graduates with known outcomes, the highest proportion in the sector among larger providers.

Data on the share of an institution’s graduates who are in employment after 15 months also varies widely, with fewer than a third in a full-time job after leaving some providers, including GSM and some smaller private higher education colleges.

Provider data from the survey is also broken down by whether employed leavers are in high-skilled or low-skilled jobs, statistics that highlight how other factors – such as university selectivity, type of course and regional labour markets – all play a major part in graduate outcomes.

For instance, the top 20 universities for the share of employed graduates in highly skilled jobs are all selective research-intensive institutions. Meanwhile, the institutions with the highest proportion of employed graduates in low-skilled jobs include universities in areas of the country with tougher labour markets and those specialising in creative arts courses.

Separate data in the release also give a qualitative picture of whether graduates feel they are using what they learned in their degree, with a clear divide between different subjects.

Overall, 16 per cent of science graduates in full-time jobs disagreed that they were “utilising what I learnt during my studies in my current activity” compared with 23 per cent for non-science courses.

The data also show that students from outside the UK are more likely to believe that they are using what they learned – even 68 per cent of overseas graduates who left with a third-class degree or pass agreed with the statement, compared with 54 per cent of UK graduates with similar marks.

Hesa also published individual response rates for the survey, which showed wide variation among some institutions; for instance just 38 per cent of UK bachelor’s graduates from De Montfort University took part in the survey compared with 84 per cent at Harper Adams University.

Graduate Outcomes differs from Hesa’s previous survey – the Destination of Leavers from Higher Education (DLHE) – in that data collection has been centralised rather than institutions themselves carrying out the work.

A Hesa spokesman said that the main factors associated with the variability in response rates included “quality of contact details, provider demographics and brand awareness among graduates”.

“Hesa is working to understand these and other factors that contribute to variability in response rates” and “exploring ways of improving” them, he added.

De Montfort said it was “surprised” by the response rate for its graduates given that it had achieved at least 80 per cent during the DLHE survey. “We are speaking to Hesa to understand this better and how we can work together to improve response rates for the next report,” a spokesman added.

simon.baker@timeshighereducation.com

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Reader's comments (3)

And, for those of us not familiar with the college, what does GSM stand for? ;)
Is this not the outfit who figured in a BBC investigation which highlighted fraudulent behaviour in the recruitment and retention of students?? as well as facilitating access to student loans for students who were subsequently disappearing in to the ether?? Is anybody surprised by this outfit's poor performance?? The former CEO, Amanda Blackmore, now holds a senior position at something called Global University Systems. This organisation seems to own a number of Universities across the globe including a couple in London. The 'notable' London School of Business and Finance, which has had a 'colourful' past, is one of them. It beggars belief that private organisations like this continue to operate.
I agree , it is incredible how this sort of thing is allowed to happen despite warning to be had by looking at how these outfits behave in the USA.

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