The Class of 2015

An Analysis of the First Destination of University Graduates

A report by the Higher Education Authority - February 2017

This year’s report, What Do Graduates Do? The Class of 2015. An Analysis of the First Destination of University
Graduates, has illustrated the first destination of 2015 university graduates, nine months after graduation.
More than 18,500, or 73%, of level 8-10 graduates responded to the survey.

The findings of this report highlight many positive employment outcomes for the 2015 graduate cohort, who
were seeking employment at the end of 2015 and early 2016. 62% of Honours Bachelor Degree graduates found
employment in 2015 (compared to 58% in 2014) and the majority of which are staying in Ireland (53%) for work.
Likewise, employment grew for Higher and Postgraduate Diploma graduates – from 76% in 2014 to 78% in 2015.
The proportion of such graduates going overseas for employment has reduced (from 8% in 2014 to 3% in 2015).
Masters and Doctorate graduates also experience relatively high levels of employment, at 80% – an improvement
of two percentage points on the previous year. In addition to percentage increases, it is also interesting to note
that the number of respondents in each of these levels also increased this year. Overall, employment levels and
employment in Ireland in particular, has improved from last year.

The survey asks graduates to indicate how relevant his/her education is to his/her current area of employment.
As expected, there is a relationship between education level and relevance – as education levels increase,
reported relevance tends to increase, with highest relevance levels reported by Higher and Postgraduate
Diploma graduates. Another notable finding is in terms of salary. As expected, as education levels rise so too
does salary. 47% of Honours Bachelor Degree graduates earn under €25,000 but this drops to 15% of Doctorate
graduates. Furthermore, 31% of Doctorate graduates reported earning over €45,000.

Similar to last year’s report, Dublin is still the region with the most employment opportunities for graduates,
followed by the South-West region. The report also highlights that the most common sector of employment for
Honours Bachelor Degree graduates (employed both in Ireland and overseas) was the Non-Market Services sector.
Lastly, this report examined the first destination of international graduates. Interestingly, of those employed –
across all levels – larger proportions of such graduates are choosing to stay in Ireland rather than move overseas,
nine months after graduation. By retaining international graduates, the evidence suggests that Ireland continues
to be a popular destination of employment.

In line with growing recognition of the importance of measuring the quality and output of higher education,
the forthcoming changes to the First Destination Survey will ensure a more holistic view of graduate outcomes.
By tracking the same cohort over time in a longitudinal study, the data will allow for a longer-term and outcomeorientated
assessment of the value and experience of higher education.

Click here to view the full report

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