Art and design graduates more likely to be unemployed – but prospects are improving

New research shows that art and design graduates have a higher level of unemployment than almost all other subject areas in the UK.



Art and design graduates in the UK have a higher level of unemployment than graduates from most other courses, but their prospects are improving, according to new figures.

Research from the Higher Education Statistics Agency showed that creative arts and design courses had one of the highest unemployment rates of all subject areas – behind only computer science.

Every year HESA quizzes graduates about what they are doing now. Their latest research focuses on people who graduated in 2011.

Art and design has low levels of full-time employment

It shows that 67.6% of creative arts and design graduates are in full-time employment, 10.9% are in part-time work and 3.8 % are “assumed to be unemployed”.

The subject has one of the lowest levels of full-time employment – just biology, physics, languages and history & philosophy have lower rates.

There is, however, a comparatively high rate of part-time work among art and design graduates. Graduates from medicine and education courses are the only ones more likely to be in part-time employment.

Employment rates are on the rise

The picture for art and design graduates is improving. HESA has been surveying levels of graduate employment for several years, starting with those who graduated in 2003.

This year’s results for art and design graduates are an improvement on last year’s with levels of full-time employment up and levels of unemployment down.

Levels of full-time employment are still some way off their 2003 high of 71.4% though. You can read the HESA figures at

Number of art and design students increases

Meanwhile figures released earlier this month by UCAS show that the number of students set to start undergraduate art and design courses is on the rise.

Pre-clearing figures published by the university applications organisation show a 3% increase in students set to join art and design courses.

Discover more:

• Number of art and design students on the rise in the UK

• What do design graduates want from the industry?

• Four out of five graduates expect £25k within five years, survey shows

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