Private players’ alumni: where are they now?

Findings likely to be of interest to BIS as student loan costs grow

August 1, 2013

Almost two-thirds of UK private providers do not know how many of their alumni are landing graduate-level jobs, a study shows.

With the vast majority of students choosing private providers for their perceived career-enhancing benefits, the lack of institutional knowledge about their graduates’ fortunes is “striking”, says the report commissioned by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills.

Written by the independent research company CFE, the research paper, titled Privately Funded Providers of Higher Education in the UK, identifies 674 private providers and interviews representatives from 126 of those institutions.

Of those, 76 are unable to provide information about the destinations of their graduates six months after leaving higher education – a statutory requirement for all publicly funded universities.

Of those that have data, several record low numbers of alumni in graduate-level jobs.

Nearly a third of providers say that under half of their students in 2010-11 entered such jobs within six months of leaving, with 75 per cent of them saying that less than half their cohort continued their studies.

The lowest figure at any publicly funded university for the proportion of students entering employment or undergoing further study six months after completion was 78.1 per cent, says the report, which was published on 25 July.

Some providers might not expect their students to enter the job market immediately, such as those catering for university entry, the report acknowledges.

Nonetheless, the results suggest “low rates of progression into graduate level employment or further study”, especially when compared with the publicly funded higher education sector, the report adds.

Uncertainty over the fortunes of graduates leaving private providers is likely to be viewed with interest by BIS, particularly if poor employment rates lead to low debt repayment levels by those funded by state loans.

Funding from the Student Loans Company for those studying at private providers rose to £100.3 million in 2011-12, up from £42.2 million the previous year.

The report recommends that BIS look again at asking private providers to collect data on their graduate employment records, although it recognises that this would be difficult given that about half of their estimated 160,000 students hail from overseas.

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