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New research shows more graduates moving for work

HESA’s new graduate mobility marker identifies the movements of graduates from home, to education, to employment using local authority data. Research finds that graduates who stay in their home region are likely to move for work within it and those who return to work in their local area are least likely to have a high opinion of their jobs.

Getting a move on: The creation of a new graduate mobility marker

HESA used its Student data collection and Graduate Outcomes survey data to identify graduates working in, moving from, or returning to the local authorities where they originally lived. The new marker uses seven categories to take account of movement within or between regions of the UK.

Nearly half (46.5%) of the 279,700 graduates included in the study stayed in the same region where they lived for both study and later work. Of these graduates, three out of five worked in a different local authority from where they lived before entering higher education.

A further 22.4% of graduates studied in a different region from their home but returned to their home region to work. Nearly two thirds of these graduates worked in a different local authority from where they had started.

31.1% of graduates ended up working in a different region from where they started.

Graduates from Scotland were the most likely to be working in the same local authority where they lived before higher education, followed by graduates from Yorkshire and The Humber. Graduates from the East of England were the most likely to move for study and move again for work.

When asked whether their work is meaningful, uses the skills they learned in education, and fits with their future plans (combined as a measure of the design and nature of work) graduates who had studied in their home region, but moved to work in another region, gave the highest scores for the design/nature of their jobs. The lowest scores were given by graduates who had moved region to study but returned to work in the same local authority where they lived before studying.

One of the authors of the research, Tej Nathwani, said:

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


  • HESA is now part of Jisc. Jisc is now the data controller of personal data previously controlled by HESA. Privacy information on the HESA website has been updated. 
  • HESA supports the advancement of higher education across all nations of the UK through the data it collects, assures and disseminates. We undertake research to advance public knowledge and understanding of UK higher education, and to improve our own outputs in the public interest.
  • Jisc cannot accept responsibility for any inferences or conclusions derived from the data by third parties.
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