Is a postgraduate degree still the top choice after graduating?


For our sixth annual Options report, we surveyed more than 10,000 young people to discover the pathways they consider after school, college and university. This year we’ve seen an interesting decrease in the likeliness to do a postgraduate degree (PG) compared to 2017, where further study was the top pathway choice.

Last year an impressive 39% of respondents stated they would do a PG immediately after finishing their current university course. We can assume this increase was encouraged by the government-backed loan in 2016 which had a substantial impact to the opportunities available for students looking to do a postgraduate degree, see our last PG blog for more info.

Controversially, we’ve seen a shift this year in likeliness to take up a PG when we asked students to tell us about their post-graduation pathway choice. Only 26% of respondents, which is a 13% decrease from 2017, remain confident in further study.

Looking at the data two things clearly stand out:

  1. The most popular pathway is now going straight into employment.
  2. A quarter of students are still undecided about their pathway.

So, how does this inform your postgraduate marketing strategy? What are the challenges and opportunities when trying to secure PG applicants for your university?


The fear of increasing their debt further and the desire to earn money are key motivators for the 39% of students that stated they want to go straight into employment after finishing their undergraduate degree. This, combined with an astonishing 60% of respondents saying they felt not at all or not quite informed about PG study, points your recruitment campaigns in a clear direction.

Make sure when speaking to potential applicants you provide them with helpful resources that address those key concerns. Attracting them with a strong call-to-action that reassures their fears and directs them to helpful advice about loan possibilities and long-term benefits focusing on realistic employment possibilities and higher graduate wages.


A quarter of 2018 respondents said they were undecided about their pathway after their current university course, a 13% increase from 2017. Interestingly the proportion of people considering a PG (26%) and those still undecided (25%) combined provides you with a huge target audience proportion of over 50%.

The right messaging and carefully considered timing is crucial when speaking to this untapped audience. We know when they are researching their options and considering applying, check out when in the cycle their activity peaks. 

Many of those students are involved in discussions on The Student Room, asking for advice and researching their options. With our unique targeting possibilities and unrivalled first-party data we can ensure your PG campaign gets in front of the right people at the right time.

So, if you’re looking to engage those interested in a PG degree and those undecided potential applicants, have a look at our PG offering here.

If you are interested in more interesting findings around students’ pathway choices, download the Options 2018/2019 report here.