3. Honours Degree Graduates

Overview of Graduate Population

  • In 2018, there were 31,990 graduates (up from 30,324 in 2017)
  • The response rate was 54%
  • More than half (54%) were female graduates
  • Most studied Business, Administration & Law, followed by Arts & Humanities



Main Graduate Destination

3.1 Main Graduate Destination – Field of Study

Nine months after graduation, 74.7% of graduates were in employment and 18.6% were in further study.

Education graduates had the highest rate of employment (91.1%), followed by Health & Welfare (85.2%) and ICT (84.7%).

Natural Sciences, Mathematics & Statistics had the highest proportion in further study (29.2%), followed by Arts & Humanities (29.1%) and Social Sciences, Journalism & Information (28.7%).


Employment Outcomes

This section relates only to graduates who are considered “In Employment”, as defined below. Thus, all figures reflect only the cohort of graduates defined as “In Employment”.

In Employment: Graduates are considered to be employed 9 months after graduation if they are working full-time, working part-time or due to start a job in the next 3 months.


3.2 Employed Graduates – Occupation/Sector

Of those in employment, more than half (51.7%) were in Professional Occupations. A further 14.7% were in Associate Professional & Technical Occupations.

Human Health & Social Work Activities (15.1%) and Financial, Insurance & Real Estate Activities (14.4%) were the most popular sectors of employment.

3.3 Employed Graduates – County of Employment

Of employed graduates, 91% were employed in Ireland, and 9% overseas. This differed by institute type, with 88% of College graduates employed in Ireland, compared to 94% for IOTs.

Of the graduates working in Ireland, 46% were working in Dublin, 12% in Cork and 7% in Galway.

Of those working abroad, the most popular countries were Great Britain (25%), the United States (16%) and Canada (11%).

3.4 Employed Graduates – Salary

Nine months after graduation, 91% of graduates were employees, 6% were on work placements, and 3% were self-employed.

More than half (55%) were on permanent or open-ended contracts, 25% were on fixed-term contracts lasting 12 months, and 10% were on fixed-term contracts lasting less than 12 months. Almost one-tenth (9%) were in temporary employment.

Excluding those who refused to disclose their salaries, 49% were earning between €25,000 – €34,999.

3.5 Employed Graduates – Placement/Work Experience

In total, 55.5% of graduates took part in work placements. This differed by institute type, with Colleges having the highest rate of participation in work placements (67.6%).

In terms of the length of work placements, two-fifths (44%) were more than 6 months long, 30% between 4 to 6 months long, 19% more than 6 weeks but less than 4 months long, and only 7% being less than 6 weeks long.

3.6 Employed Graduates – Relevance and Need

Nine months after graduation, 56.9% of graduates considered their course Very Relevant or Relevant to their job.

On the need for qualification, 56.1% thought their qualification was a formal requirement for their job. A further 19.7% thought that their qualification was not a formal requirement, yet gave them an advantage in attaining their job.

3.7 Employed Graduates – Source of Job

One-fifth (21%) found their job through recruitment sites, 20% through personal contacts and 17% had already worked there (this includes work placements and internships).

Further Study Outcomes

In Further Study: Graduates are considered to be in further study 9 months after graduation if they are enrolled in either full-time or part-time further study or training.


3.8 Further Study Graduates – Field of Study

Of graduates who pursued further study, 87% were in further study in Ireland, while 13% were overseas.

Business, Administration & Law graduates were most likely to pursue further studies in the same field of study (83.6%). This was followed by Engineering, Manufacturing & Construction (74.5%) graduates.

Arts & Humanities graduates were least likely to pursue further studies in the same field of study (28.2%). This is down from 30% in 2017. Similar to 2017, Arts & Humanities graduates were more likely to opt for further study in Education (38.3%). This is up from 35% in 2017.


3.9 Further Study Graduates – Why do Further Study?

Of the graduates who pursued further study, 66% pursued Masters Taught programmes (down from 68% in 2017).

One quarter (24%) pursued further study to change or improve career options. One-fifth (22%) considered further study a requirement for finding and progressing in future employment.

Unemployment & Other Activities

This section relates only to graduates who are “Unemployed” or “Engaged in Other Activities”, as defined below. Thus, all figures reflect only these cohorts of graduates.

Unemployed: Unemployed graduates consist of graduates who are unemployed and looking for a job 9 months after graduation. 


Engaged in Other Activities: Other activities include caring for family members or others, travelling, volunteering, illness, retirement, unemployed yet not seeking employment, and other.

3.10 Unemployed/Engaged in Other Activities

Overall, only 4% of graduates were unemployed and looking for work nine months after graduation. Of these graduates, 34.9% have been looking for a job since graduation. This is up from 29% in 2017. One-fifth (22.5%) had held a job in the past nine months, yet was either let go, made redundant or the contract had ended.

Nine months after graduation, 3% of graduates were engaged in other activities. One-fifth (23%) took time out to travel.

Graduate Reflections

This section relates to ALL Honours Degree Graduates surveyed.

3.11 Graduate Reflections – Study Same Course Again

Two-thirds (68.9%) of graduates considered it Very Likely or Likely that they would study the same course again.

Go to next chapter: Postgraduate Taught Graduates

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