Destination of Leavers from Higher Education
The Destinations of Leavers from Higher Education survey or DLHE is a statistical survey which aims to contact UK and EU domiciled graduates from higher education (HE) programmes six months after qualifying from their HE course. Its aim is to establish what type of employment or further study they were engaged in, and their income, on one specific day in the survey period.
The survey replaced an earlier "First Destination Survey" in Autumn 2003. Since inception, the survey has been conducted by the United Kingdom's Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) for Higher Education Institutions (HEIs).
Since 2008 the survey included directly funded HE students at Further Education Colleges (FECs) and has been conducted by both IFF Research and the International Graduate Insight Group (i-graduate). In this context the survey is also known as the Higher Education in Further Education Destinations of Leavers from Higher Education (HE in FE DLHE).
The results are often used by league tables of British universities compiled by newspapers. The newspapers purchase the data from HESA.
The survey takes the form of a questionnaire and is conducted on-line, by telephone or by post. Target response rates are set to ensure that detailed data can be published and that the results of the survey genuinely reflect the outcomes for students leaving institutions.
A second stage of the survey called the DLHE Longitudinal survey aims to find out what HE students have been doing, over a longer period of time, since completing their studies. The survey is completed around three and a half years after graduation.
Impact of survey
As the survey is highly influential in certain league tables, some universities devote considerable effort into ensuring the best possible outcome within the regulations set by HESA. For example the University of Exeter Careers and Employment Service Annual Report for 2004/2005 states
- From the above, it can be seen that the DLHE Survey is not only a time consuming and complicated exercise but, when the league tables are published, it also has a considerable impact on the reputation of the institution. ... As a result of this interest in the destination of the students the survey for the 2005 leavers was conducted in a very thorough way, analysed each step of the process to ensure the best possible outcome whilst complying with the regulations laid down by HESA.
The document goes on to confirm that at this institution the telephone part of the survey was performed "by a team of student helpers who telephoned the graduates at home during the evenings and weekends".
Other universities, for example Plymouth,  actively and publicly encourage participation making it clear that it affects the league table position of the students' alma mater. The Senate of the University of Manchester comments that there was some evidence that actions by specific Schools to underline the importance of the DLHE Survey and to encourage participation had resulted in more positive results (e.g., Chemical Engineering).
- DLHE sample questionnaire HESA
- Destination of Leavers from HE Comparative Report, National Centre for Social Research, Feb 2008 
- University of Exeter Careers and Employment Service Annual Report for 2004/2005, accessed on 5 May 2008 , Google Cache
- Supporting your university Did you complete your higher education qualification in 2002/03?, University of Plymouth, accessed 5 May 2008 
- (Unconfirmed) minutes of the Senate of the University of Manchester, Wednesday, 17 October 2007