Of all new graduates from UK universities in 2014 and 2015, a quarter were working in London within six monthsby Alexandra Jones / November 29, 2016 / Leave a comment
One of the most common interpretations of the Brexit vote is that it illustrated the UK’s stark economic divides—with the “left behind places” in regions such as the northeast and Midlands venting their anger at the disparities between them and London and the southeast.
Prime Minister Theresa May had these concerns in mind in August when she announced plans for a new economic and industrial strategy to “drive growth up and down the country” and to “build an economy that works for everyone.” This rhetoric also underpinned in last week’s autumn statement, in which Chancellor Philip Hammond pledged to address the “damaging imbalances” in the UK’s economy.
For May and Hammond to make good on those ambitions, one of their top priorities should be tackling the UK’s internal brain drain. Many cities are losing out on the high-achieving graduates critical to driving growth and jobs across their local economies—with top-ranking students instead flocking to London.
A new report by the Centre for Cities highlights the scale of the issue. Of all new graduates from UK universities in 2014 and 2015, a quarter were working in London within six months of finishing their degree, around five times more than were working in Manchester, the second most popular city for new graduates.
Those statistics are perhaps not that surprising, especially given that the capital is home to around a fifth of all UK jobs. But the UK’s highest-achieving graduates in particular are choosing the capital over other cities. In 2014-15, London attracted 38 per cent of new Russell Group graduates with first-class or upper-second class degrees who moved for a job—around 13 times more than Manchester, again the second most popular destination for this group.
This trend was even stronger for new Oxbridge graduates, with London gaining 52 per cent of those who moved for work after finishing university, compared to just 2 per cent in Birmingham and Bristol respectively, the capital’s nearest competitors.
The biggest factor influencing where these graduates choose to live is not high starting salaries, but instead opportunities for career progression. For example, Slough, Newport and Derby are all home to some of the highest average graduate salaries in the UK. But they struggle to attract large shares of new graduates compared to bigger cities…