How graduates move across England

Oh the places they'll go...

David Kernohan is Deputy Editor of Wonkhe

A parallel universe Office for Students would no doubt just have updated its “geography of employment” dataset, which looks at where graduates end up working using information from the LEO (thus, tax-derived) dataset.

It’s a lovely release, which I’ve written about (and plotted) before on Wonkhe, because it digs down to provider level – allowing each university to understand the migratory patterns of its own graduates. Do they stay and work locally to contribute to local regeneration and “levelling up”, do they move back to their pre-study home to support those areas, or do they move to the big city to take a well paid (and/or highly skilled job).

In the absence of this, we spotted ONS has released similar information for all graduates at the Travel To Work Area (TTWA) resolution. The TTWA concept is based on the extent of sub-regional commuting to the main centre of employment for people living in an area – where I live I am nearer geographically to Stroud than Bristol but I am in the Bristol TTWA because people who live near me tend to commute to Bristol.

Unlike the OfS release, this includes data for non-graduates as well. We get to see information for 2018-19 for the whole population, graduates, and non-graduates on:

  • Retention rates (the proportion who studied at Key Stage 4 – GCSE – and stayed in an area)
  • Net gain rates (the proportion of the above who stayed minus the amount who studied and left)
  • Inward migration rates (the proportion who did not study at KS4 in the area moving to the area)

Plus the share of the population between 35 and 64 who hold a level 4 (undergraduate degree year one) or above, and the proportion of graduates.

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It’s fascinating stuff. London, of course, is a big draw for graduates all over the country when it comes to inward migration – but proportionally in terms of area population it is beaten by Brighton, Bristol, and Leeds. For non-graduates Thetford, Salisbury, and Andover lead the ranking – London sits resolutely towards the bottom.

If we look at net gains, for graduates we have the same top four whereas for non-graduates Colchester, Salisbury, and Andover¬† pop up at the top. There’s very much a military theme here for non-graduates.

London, Manchester, Liverpool, and Newcastle are tops for graduate retention – for non-graduates we are looking again at Manchester and Liverpool, but also Middlesborough and Stockton, and Stoke-on-Trent. Retention rates for non-graduates are much higher across the board.



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