Oxford graduates' work is "meaningful and important" to them

Each year, the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) uses the Graduate Outcomes Survey (GOS) to collect information from graduates of all universities about what they go on to do. So far, the Survey has collected data from over 13,000, 56%, of University of Oxford leavers who have graduated between 2018 and 2020. 

This article highlights some stand-out points on Oxford students' outcomes 15 months after graduation. 

Their work is "meaningful and important"

The vast majority, 86% of Oxford leavers, agreed their current work was “meaningful and important” to them. Undergraduate (UG) leavers agreed the least with this statement, while Postgraduate research (PGR) leavers agreed the most. There were no differences between different demographic groups but there were some differences between the four University divisions: Humanities; Mathematical, Physical & Life Sciences; Medical Sciences; and Social Sciences.


Employment status

The majority of graduates were either in employment (54%) or further study (25%) 15 months after graduating. Less than 5% were unemployed and looking for work. There is some evidence that during the pandemic years graduates were slightly more likely to be in further study or looking for work (as opposed to being in employment). Just under half of respondents (48%) were still in their first job.

Socio-demographic variables

Social background (as measured by admission flags, school type, and ethnicity) is not associated with the chances of being unemployed 15 months after graduation but is associated with being in a highly skilled job.

BME and independent school graduates were statistically significantly more likely to have a highly skilled job than their White and state school counterparts.

Social background is also associated with annual salary. Those not flagged on admissions, from independent schools and BME graduates were all statistically significantly more likely to earn more than their counterparts. Many of these differences were also statistically significant at the divisional level. However, the White/BME pay gap diminished almost completely once the subject studied and industry were taken into account.

Female graduates earned on average £30,384 while male graduates earned on average £36,121. However, this gender pay gap decreases dramatically once the subject studied and industry they work in was accounted for.

Degree awards

Students awarded a 2.2 were more likely to be unemployed than those who were awarded a 2.1 or 1st.

Postgraduate Taught

Employment status

The majority of graduates, 60%, were in paid employment, followed by 19% in further study. A very low proportion, less than 3%, remained unemployed and looking for work 15 months after graduation. 

The majority, 56%, took the job as it “fitted into their career plan”; 13% took the job to “broaden their work experience". 

Almost one third, 30%, of those in employment were also involved in some other activities, mainly in further study or self-employed.

Socio-demographic variables

There were some statistically significant differences between different demographic groups of graduates.

BME graduates were also more likely than White graduates to run their own business and less likely to engage in further study.

Females were more likely to engage in further study or care for someone while males were more likely to run their own business. The annual salary statistically significantly differed for males and females (males earning more) and graduates with different disability status (those with Other disability earning less) but there were no differences in earnings between different ethnic groups.

Salaries by division

The average annual salary was £54,420 and it was heavily affected by the high earners graduates from Social Sciences (MBA, MLF, MPP, etc.). Humanities graduates earned £24,050 on average.

Postgraduate Research

Employment status

A very high proportion, 80%, of graduates were in paid employment 15 months after graduating from Oxford. Only 6% were engaged in further study and 3% were unemployed and looking for work.

The majority, 63%, chose the job as it “fitted with their career plan,” followed by 10% who took it to “broaden their work experience". 

Socio-demographic variables

There were very few differences in terms of the main activity and salary between different demographic groups, however the pay gap between males and females persists, with females earning £10k less on average than males.

Medium salary

The average annual salary was £45,110 per annum and those being self-employed/freelancing were the highest earners. 

Differences between divisions

There were some statistically significant differences between divisions though, with Humanities graduates more likely to be unemployed (7.5%). MPLS and Humanities PGRs felt their jobs were “meaningful and important to me” much more than their PGT and UG colleagues. In Medical Sciences and Social Sciences, there are no such differences between UG and PGs.