What Happens Next? 2018

20 August 2018

Latest report from AGCAS reveals employment disadvantage faced by disabled graduates

AGCAS has published the latest edition of What Happens Next? which reports on the first destinations of disabled graduates and provides real evidence of the effect of a disability on a graduate’s employment prospects.

This year’s report compares the employment outcomes of disabled and non-disabled university leavers, six months after graduating, drawing on data from the 2015/16 Destinations of Leavers from Higher Education (DLHE) survey. 

Following the same pattern as previous years’ findings, this year’s report highlights that notable differences remain in the outcomes of disabled and non-disabled graduates. At all qualification levels (first degree, postgraduate taught and postgraduate research) disabled graduates were less likely to be in full-time employment than non-disabled graduates. Compared to last year’s findings, the gap between the proportion of disabled and non-disabled graduates entering full-time employment has decreased at first degree and postgraduate research levels. However, at postgraduate taught level, the gap has increased.

Key themes from the report

A key theme emerging from this year’s report is the disadvantage experienced by those with a social communication condition/Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). This group was the least likely of all disability groups to be in full-time employment and the most likely to be unemployed: unemployment proportions increased with increasing qualification level for this group. Furthermore, graduates with a social/ASD condition were the least likely to have secured a permanent employment contract.

These findings are concerning and demonstrate the requirement for all stakeholders to recognise the challenges facing individuals with an ASD and to work together in order to support students and graduates and maximise their chances of success.  


The National Association of Disability Practitioners (NADP) commented:

NADP welcomes this report and its findings, which highlight the sector development need and focus to reduce barriers for disabled graduates moving into employment. Our organisation is committed to raising the profile and standard of disability equality throughout the student journey from pre-entry to post-exit, into and beyond first destination employment.


Elaine Boyes, AGCAS Executive Director, said:

The employment disadvantage encountered by disabled graduates is linked to social mobility. University careers services play a key role in recognising the needs of, and providing targeted, personalised support to, disadvantaged students and graduates to help them achieve the best possible career outcomes. However, we all – graduate employers, universities and wider society – have a role to play in equalizing access to all careers, employers and organsisations.


Tab Ahmad, Founder & Managing Director, EmployAbility commented:

AGCAS's What Happens Next? 2018 report is essential reading for anyone wishing to understand how disabled graduates fare compared to their non-disabled peers. Although great strides are being made by employers around diversity and inclusion, the report shines a spotlight on the important work that still needs to be done to harness this largely untapped talent pool


What Happens Next? has been produced annually by AGCAS for 16 years. The report is written by careers and employability professionals who are members of the AGCAS Disability Task Group, which exists to help shape the careers and employability support available to disabled students in higher education through resource development, training and sharing of good practice. 

Findings are based on analysis of 322,810 graduates at first degree, higher degree (taught) and higher degree (research) level who responded to the 2015/16 survey. Of this total, 12.9% (41,490) identified themselves as having either a disability or learning difficulty during their period of study.


Download this year's edition (2018)

Download last year's edition (2017)