Returning home after graduation? It’s more complicated than that

Research reveals more detailed picture of where students go to work after finishing their degree

November 29, 2022
Source: iStock

The majority of UK graduates who return to the region where they went to school do not work in their hometown, new figures suggest.

Previous research on graduate mobility has often examined how many graduates return to their home region for work, after studying elsewhere.

However, new research from the Higher Education Statistics Agency (Hesa) uses seven different categories to examine the impact of UK graduates’ movements within or between regions for the first time.

Its analysis of 280,000 graduates from its student data collection and Graduate Outcomes survey found that nearly half (46.5 per cent) stayed in the same region where they lived to study and work.

But of these, 60 per cent worked in a different local authority from where they lived previously – with Londoners most likely to do so.

A further 22.4 per cent of graduates returned to their region for work, after studying elsewhere, and two-thirds of them did so in a different local authority.

The remaining 31.1 per cent ended up working in a different region from where they were before studying.

Scotland had the highest proportion of graduates working in the same local area they came from, while the east of England saw the lowest.

“This more detailed graduate geographical mobility marker will benefit those who wish to understand more about patterns of graduate mobility by helping to uncover new insights at a more local level than was previously possible,” said Tej Nathwani, one of the authors of the research.

“The work will also help researchers carry out further explorations into how graduate mobility correlates with their outcomes.”

The report also found that graduates returning to work in their local area are least likely to have a favourable opinion of their jobs.

Graduates who returned to their original place of residence rated their jobs worse than any other university leavers across all four categories – on the design and nature of their work, how meaningful it is, how it fits with their future plans, and if it uses skills learned from study.

Meanwhile, those who studied within their own region but then moved away for work gave the highest scores across all four questions.

patrick.jack@timeshighereducation.com

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