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Futuretrack Stage 5 Aims

The Futuretrack Stage 5 report was published on 12 March 2021.

Futuretrack Stage 5 aimed to:

  • create an accurate picture of the kinds of jobs graduates are doing in the longer-term, and how they got them;
  • explore how the post-2008-9 recession had affected graduate employment opportunities;
  • collect data on the longer-term impact of student debt on graduate careers;
  • establish whether higher education has contributed to social mobility, and
  • compare the experiences of the Futuretrack cohort with students who graduated in 1995.

Futuretrack is an academic research study that explores the relationship between higher education, career decision-making and labour market opportunities – an issue that has become heated in media and academic debates. Futuretrack stages 1-4 were led by Professor Kate Purcell, working closely with Professor Peter Elias. It tracked the 2005/2006 cohort of applicants who applied to study on full-time undergraduate courses through the University and Colleges Admission Service (UCAS) applicants four times in six years, starting from their initial application to higher education, shedding a great deal of light on the relationship between higher education, employment and how students’ views of career options evolved during their studies. Findings from all previous stages 1-4 are available on our website. The fourth stage, conducted in 2011/12, looked at what kinds of jobs recent graduates were doing around two years after graduation. The fifth stage was conducted to provide a timely opportunity to catch up with the Futuretrackers to see how they had navigated the labour market over the longer term.

The fifth stage and the ongoing post-Covid stage is led by Professor Peter Elias, working with Professor Kate Purcell (now semi-retired) and a team of researchers at the Warwick Institute for Employment Research that includes old Futuretrack team members and new faces. Like previous stages, Futuretrack Stage 5 involved a survey - this time through Qualtrics rather than SnapSurveys – and a follow-up programme of telephone interviews with a sub-sample of 200 respondents to collect detailed information about the options and reasons for choices and outcomes recorded in the survey. Futuretrack is an independent, interdisciplinary, policy-related research project. The fifth stage and the enquiry leading into the sixth stage are funded by the Nuffield Foundation. Stages 1-4 were funded by the Higher Education Careers Service Unit (HECSU) and this Institute, working with UCAS. For more information please contact us at