Top Graduate Employers 2017 – Methodology

How the Complete University Guide compiles the top graduate employers table:

Methodology Grad Employers 2017

We use data from the Destination of Leavers from Higher Education survey (DLHE), which asks UK and EU domiciled leavers what they are doing on a particular reference date roughly six months after graduation.

  • The data capture is undertaken by Higher Education institutions for their own graduates but the procedure is prescribed by the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA).
  • The Complete University Guide has used DLHE 2015–16 to identify graduates entering full-time, paid graduate employment and the names of their employers. 
  • We began with the uncleansed data returned by the graduates themselves which frequently results in more than one name for the same employer. We have attempted to correct any mistakes but would be glad to be informed if errors are found.

In order to identify the leading employers of graduates from UK universities, we started with full-time, first degree UK and EU domiciled graduates who responded with known destinations.

  • This included those graduates known to be engaged, for example, in further study, in full-time employment, in part-time employment, or unemployed – not just those in full-time employment, and restricted to employers recruiting 3 or more graduates (a total of 240,725 graduates). 
  • We then restricted our search to graduates in full-time paid work (137,545 graduates). 
  • Next, we removed all doctors, dentists and nurses from the sample (leaving 102,545 graduates). 
  • We narrowed the search further by looking only at graduates engaged in professional employment* (76,102 graduates fell into this group).
  • We then confined our cohort to identifiable employers (24,718 graduates).
  • Finally removed any classified as associate professionals** (15,031 graduates).   
  • Out of the original sample of 240,725 our study looks at these 15,031 graduates.


  • * professional employment – occupations requiring a degree or equivalent qualification.
  • ** associate professional – in an occupation requiring a high-level vocational qualification, often involving a substantial period of full-time training or further study.
  • The number of graduate-level posts are rounded to the nearest five in line with Higher Education Statistics Agency confidentiality requirements.

 See the latest Top Graduate Employers table.