Analysis of Higher Education Statistics Agency data by the Higher Education Careers Services Unit, published on 4 February, identifies four distinct graduate migration patterns within the UK.
The largest group, making up 45.9 per cent of all employed graduates who left university in 2013, were “regional loyals” – who studied and then worked in their home region.
They made up a particularly large proportion of the graduate workforce in the North East and North West of England, as well as Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland – and tended to be slightly older, more likely to be female and more likely to have studied part-time.
The second largest group, “regional returners”, moved away from their home region to study but returned to work.
Accounting for 24.7 per cent of the graduate workforce, they were particularly prominent in the East, the South East and the West Midlands. They were the most likely group to be in non-professional employment, except in London.
The other two groups, “regional stayers” and “regional incomers”, moved away from home for their first job.
The stayers, representing 11.5 per cent of working university leavers, were those who moved away from home to study and then stayed in that region to work. This group included many health and media professionals, and its members were most likely to be under 24, white and to have studied full-time.
The report says stayers made up a particularly large proportion of the graduate workforce in Yorkshire and the Humber, the East Midlands, the South West and the North East.
The final group, made up of 18 per cent of employed graduates, were incomers who worked in an area where they neither studied nor were domiciled.
These were particularly prominent in London, the East and the South East, and were the least likely to be in a non-professional job. Careers where they were often found included business, finance and marketing.Engineering and the sciences also had a high proportion of such graduates.
In general, the report – Loyals, stayers, Returners and Incomers: Graduate Migration Patterns – finds that areas which are closer to London find it harder to retain their graduates who studied in the region because of the capital’s powerful pull.
The English regions retaining the lowest proportion of university leavers after graduation were the East Midlands (39.2 per cent) and the South East (43.1 per cent). In contrast, the regions that did best were the North West (66 per cent) and the North East (55.1 per cent). Wales, Scotland and Ireland also performed well.
However, all regions – with the exception of Northern Ireland – were more likely to retain those originally from the region than those who studied there.
Charlie Ball, Hescu’s head of higher education intelligence, said that the study demonstrated how graduate migration patterns were “complex”.
“It highlights two clear approaches for universities and local authorities looking to secure graduate talent – targeting graduates originally domiciled in their region, and those who went to university there,” Mr Ball said.
“A skilled and educated workforce is a boon to any region looking for economic growth and the regional agenda for graduate employment is becoming increasingly important.”