Regional LEO at last? Well, not quite

Ever since we got our first look at the DfE Longitudinal Education Outcomes dataset we’ve been asking for regions to be taken into account.

The “home” region of a graduate, the region of the institution they attended, and the region they currently live in, will all have an effect on graduate earnings. Indeed, they all have an effect on each other.

From the DfE release we now know these hypotheses are correct. In their own words “a basic regression analysis suggest that region has a large and significant effect on earnings”. But we still don’t have the answer at an institutional level. However, we can use this release to look at the way the home, institutional, and current region associated with graduates has an effect on salary.

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As can be seen, the relationships between all three regional associations can’t readily be analysed. We do, however, get an impression of the impact of the local authority area that a graduate currently lives in on their salary. Short term, it’s great news for Dundee – even though London wins out over 10 years.

However, London-based graduate studying in London don’t quite have the salary impact that might be expected. Whatever we may assume about graduates based in London, the fact remains that the capital is a diverse city. Those who have lived in and graduate in London may not hit the salary heights that those starting a career in banking may expect.

A taste of things to come

Though we don’t yet get an institutional view (though the consultation on how to best do this remains open) we do see eye-opening data on where graduates come from and go to relating to each institution for which full records are available (DfE seem peculiarly reluctant to share the fact that they know UKPRN codes for FE providers). You have to bear in mind the impact on graduates coming from or staying in the region of their institution when you examine these figures – though it is clear that the type of provider in question has an impact on student intake and graduate behaviour.

What I think we are seeing is the impact of “citizens of somewhere” living near and working near their chosen HE provider. It’s difficult to understand the DfE focus on graduate salaries when you think about graduates committed to working in the same area that they grew up (and studied) in.

We’ll eventually see salary data for graduates from given institutions balanced by region – a release likely to fundamentally reshape our perception of LEO. Quite how this will be communicated to applicants (coming to the data via uncaveated and uncontrolled newspaper league tables – and whatever follows unistats) remains to be seen.

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