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‘Brain drain’ evident in the UK cities as 58% of students relocate after graduation

Glasgow and Edinburgh Revealed as Best Cities for Keeping Students After Graduation 

Recent research has revealed Glasgow and Edinburgh as the best cities in the UK for keeping students in the city after graduation. Over half (51%) of students who studied in the Scottish university cities decided to stay to work after their studies.  

The study questioned 2,000 recent graduates on where they moved for work after university, and what influenced their decision. It was found that 58% of students leave their city of study after graduation, with one-third (33%) returning home. 

London takes third place with 47% of its graduates staying to work in the English capital after finishing their studies.

The top ten university cities for student retention in the UK are listed below: 

  1. Glasgow – 51% 
  2. Edinburgh – 51% 
  3. London – 47% 
  4. Birmingham – 41% 
  5. Leeds – 39% 
  6. Sunderland – 39% 
  7. Cambridge – 39% 
  8. Newcastle – 36% 
  9. Norwich – 33% 
  10. Southampton – 32% 

There are clear reasons why Glasgow is retaining its graduates. The recent graduates were asked to rank various factors of their university experience, 78% rated the city’s culture as good or excellent, making it the best in the UK. It was also voted as having the second-best atmosphere, with 79% of graduates rating it as good or excellent.  

While Scottish cities are doing well, Brighton is struggling to keep hold of its students after graduation. The seaside town currently has the worst graduate retention rate in the UK with just 23% of its former students staying for work after they finished their studies.  

The research was conducted by student accommodation providers Liberty Living to uncover how much of a ‘brain drain’ there is in university towns and cities after students graduate, and what caused this. 

Family proved to be the biggest influence on students when deciding where to settle after university, even more so than job opportunities. Over one-third (36%) moved to be closer to their family after graduation, compared to 27% of students who said they were influenced by job opportunities.  

24% of students said that house and rent prices influenced their decision on where to work after graduation. And 24% also said they moved to be closer to their partner.  

These results highlight that ‘brain drain’ is an issue, just 4% of students said that career advice and support from their university influenced their decision on where to work once they had graduated. Universities need to be working with their students and local businesses to help generate further career opportunities in the city.  

Lesley Loftus, Scotland Operations Manager at Liberty Living says: 

“Students are a valuable asset to cities. Keeping these bright young minds improves the local workforce and helps boost local businesses.  

“The research shows Scottish universities are doing many of the right things to help encourage their students to stay after graduation. Providing career advice and helping create good links and opportunities will help keep more students in the city they studied. Supporting students in finding graduate jobs will not only improve the local economy, but also advertise the university as an attractive choice for undergrads.” 

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