Success in a knowledge economy? Understanding the early labour market experiences of doctoral graduates in the UK

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


For several decades, the policy discourse of the knowledge economy has articulated the importance of doctoral graduates to economic growth. More recently, a counter narrative depicting doctoral graduates as ‘disillusioned and directionless’ - facing difficult and fractured transitions into non-academic employment - has emerged. This study offers a timely reappraisal of the knowledge economy promise, analysing recent employment data for UK doctoral graduates (n=4731) linked to academic and socio-demographic data. This novel element of linked data enables an exploration of whether and how doctoral students’ academic experiences and differing access to economic, social and cultural capitals are associated with distinct career pathways. Early analyses indicate that the vast majority of doctoral graduates are in professional employment, and career satisfaction is high. However, clear associations are observed between socio-demographic characteristics and doctoral subject and institution, and employment outcomes differ significantly by these variables, too. A full analysis, with policy recommendations, will be presented.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2017
EventSociety for Research into Higher Education Annual Research Conference - Newport
Duration: 6 Dec 20178 Dec 2017


ConferenceSociety for Research into Higher Education Annual Research Conference

Cite this