Graduate Outcomes & Disability: Introduction

This report explores graduate outcomes for graduates with a disability, and it does so by linking the HEA’s Equal Access Survey data with the HEA’s Graduate Outcomes Survey data.


First, a description of the methodology used is given. This covers a description of both the HEA’s Equal Access Survey and the HEA’s Graduate Outcomes Survey; the years of coverage; the number of matched records (including the nature of the disability stated by students); and survey response rates.


Next, the main destination of graduates is provided, looking at employment, further study, unemployment or other outcomes.  The data given compares those with a disability to those without; and a further breakdown of the nature of disability is provided.  A comparison of outcomes from before the Covid-19 pandemic and after is also provided.


Employment results, setting out location of employment, employment sector, occupation and contract type are given.


Finally, an earnings analysis compares earnings for graduates with a disability to those without a disability.


  • The Equal Access Survey

    The Equal Access Survey (EAS) is an annual, voluntary set of questions asked of first year undergraduate students to HEA-funded institutions. The questions are asked as part of the registration process at the start of the academic year, and data is collected on student disability and the nature of that disability.

  • The Graduate Outcomes Survey

    The Graduate Outcomes Survey is a national survey distributed to all graduates of higher education institutions (HEIs), nine months after graduation. The outputs of this nationwide survey give a picture of what graduates are doing in their early-stage careers.

  • Key Findings

    The main findings are:

    1. A total of 69% of graduates with a disability were in employment nine months after graduation (full-time, part-time or due to start a job); and this figure ranged from 57% to 74% depending on the nature of the disability. This compares with 74% of graduates with no disability.
    2. The proportion of graduates with a disability pursuing further study (full-time or part-time) was 20%, compared with 19% of graduates without a disability.  The figures for those with a disability ranged between 17% of graduates with a learning disability and 25% for graduates with multiple disabilities.
    3. A total of 7% of graduates with a disability were unemployed, compared with 5% of graduates with no disability.
    4. In terms of occupational groupings of employed graduates, 47% of graduates with a disability were employed in Professional occupations vs 56% of graduates with no disability. Between 41% and 53% of graduates with different types of disability were employed in Professional occupations.
    5. The most common sector of employment for all graduates was Human Health and Social Work Activities at 16% for graduates with a disability and 16% without.  The sector with the largest difference was Financial, Insurance and Real Estate activities with 12% of graduates with a disability employed in this sector, compared to 16% of graduates with no disability.
    6. Across all graduates, permanent contracts were the most common form of contract type.  A total of 56% of graduates with a disability had a permanent contract compared to 55% of those with no disability.
    7. 55% of graduates with a disability said that their course was either very relevant or relevant to their job; and this compares with 60% of graduates with no disability.
    8. Graduates with disabilities were more represented in each of the lower salary bands; up to salaries of €20,000-€24,999. In each band thereafter graduates with no disabilities had a higher share of their total group than those with a disability.

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