1136.0 - Directory of Education and Training Statistics, 2004  
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Contents >> Non-ABS Collections >> Higher Education >> Graduate Destination Survey

Graduate Destination Survey


Research Manager
Graduate Careers Council of Australia (GCCA)
PO Box 28 Parkville, VIC 3052
Telephone (03) 9344 9333
Facsimile (03) 9347 7298
Email gradlink@gcca.unimelb.edu.au
Website www.gradlink.edu.au


The Graduate Destination Survey (GDS) is designed to collect information on the destination of higher education graduates. The survey focuses on recent graduates' participation in the labour market and further education. The survey is carried out by the Graduate Careers Council of Australia (GCCA) in association with Australian higher education institutions. Each institution is involved with the dispatch and collection of the GDS forms. The survey results are used to evaluate, within five months after the completion of graduates' qualifications, the extent to which they are employed, seeking employment, engaged in further study or unavailable to work.


Graduates included in the scope must have completed their course in the previous calendar year and attended an Australian higher education institution (full-time, part-time or externally) and the graduate must have been eligible for any of the following awards:

  • Pass bachelor
  • Honours bachelor
  • Graduate certificate
  • Graduate or Postgraduate diploma
  • Graduate bachelor
  • Masters: research
  • Masters: coursework
  • Ph.D or doctorate
  • 3 year Undergraduate diploma

The scope of the survey also includes:
  • graduates with overseas addresses
  • students continuing with honours courses which include an additional year of study who have met the requirements for the award of a pass bachelor
  • graduates from the Australian Defence Force Academy
  • graduates from the private higher education institution, Bond University, (Queensland), and from the 1996 GDS, Marcus Oldham Agricultural College (Victoria) and the Australian Film, Television and Radio School, and Notre Dame University
  • in instances where a combined degree is undertaken, graduates who have completed the first half of that combined degree, and the institution allows the student to graduate. They are again in scope when they complete the second half of their combined degree. For institutions that allow graduation only after both parts of a combined degree qualification are completed, the graduate is in scope only once.
The GCCA is negotiating with Bachelor College in the Northern Territory and the New South Wales College of Law for future inclusion in the scope of the survey.



Graduate Careers Council of Australia, Graduate Destination Survey, GCCA, Parkville.
Graduate Careers Council of Australia, Course Experience Questionnaire, GCCA, Parkville.
Graduate Careers Council of Australia, Postgraduate Destination Survey, GCCA, Parkville.
Graduate Careers Council of Australia, Postgraduate Research Experience Questionnaire, GCCA, Parkville.
New Issue - Grads, Jobs and Dollars.

Data Service

GradStats is available on the website and provides an initial release of summary data. Additional data are available on request, subject to reliability and confidentiality restraints for the data items.

Release Schedule

The publication Graduate Destination Survey is released June/July of the year following the reference year. Postgraduate Destination Survey is released in October of the year following the reference year.


Personal Characteristics

Residency status
Home state
Disability status
Non-English speaking background
First educational qualification post school
Highest educational qualification prior to course

Course Characteristics

Level of qualification
Field of study
Length of time taken to complete course
Whether the graduate received recognition for prior learning
Work in final year
Employer support during course

Employment Characteristics

Labour force status at reference date
Whether employed full-time or part-time
Whether a short-term or permanent employee
Occupation at reference date
Industry of employer at reference date
Annual salary
Length of service

Further Study Plans

Level of qualification
Field of study
Month course began


Information is available for Australia and all states and territories.


The GDS is a census of all higher education institution graduates who satisfy the specified scope criteria. A census methodology allows the dissemination of results at the institution level. The data are collected using a self-enumeration, mail-out/mail-back questionnaire. A questionnaire is distributed by each higher education institution to the graduates from their institution, on or about 30 April (or 31 October in the case of early completers). Early completers are those graduates who have completed their qualification ending in the first semester. The institutions collect data twice a year, after each graduation, but collate the data in one annual statistical report.

Some institutions conduct a mail out of questionnaires aimed at reaching the graduates on or around the reference dates. However, most institutions distribute the questionnaires to the graduates to coincide with the mail out letters on the graduation ceremony procedures. This decision is generally made to reduce costs and increase efficiency. Most graduates within the scope of the survey receive a questionnaire, a reply paid envelope and a covering letter requesting the questionnaire be returned as soon as possible.

All graduates who have not returned their questionnaire to the higher education institution after four to six weeks, are sent a reminder package by mail. A number of other follow up techniques are pursued such as telephone reminder and offers of assistance in employment search to unemployed graduates.

Questionnaires are, in the first instance, returned to their institution of origin. The data are usually entered onto a file by the higher education institution but in some cases the coding and punching is carried out by the GCCA. Responses are coded according to standard coding instructions issued by the GCCA and are then forwarded to the GCCA for computer processing and compilation. There are however a number of institutions who use a central coding service offered by the GCCA. Upon completion of processing, survey forms are returned to the originating institution.


Reference Period

April or October depending on their graduation date. Timed to coincide with graduation ceremonies.

Frequency of Collection


Historical Data

The GDS was conducted for the first time in 1971.


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