In UK, Returning Home After University Means Lower Wages

(Photo: Flickr, Creative Commons)

(Photo: Flickr, Creative Commons)

A new study released by the British organization Prospects, a leading graduate career research outlet, found that graduates who leave their hometowns to study and later return after receiving a diploma are more like to be in lower-paid positions than their peers.

The report analyzed Higher Education Statistics data and identified four graduate migration patterns. It subsequently evaluated the impact each of these patterns had on graduates’ employment six months after graduation.

A quarter of graduates were dubbed “regional returners.” These are graduates who leave home to study but return to find work after completing university. This demographic is particularly dominant in eastern England. “Regional returners” are more likely to use personal contacts rather than university services to secure work; 40% are working in secretarial, retail, and other non-professional positions.

The most mobile group is called “regional incomers.” These are graduates who moved away from home and their place of study to find work. This group accounted for 18% of those surveyed, and these graduates were the least likely to be in a non-graduate job. Almost half of “regional incomers” (44%) are working in London. These are also the graduates that are most likely to state that they were satisfied with their job.

Then there are “regional loyals,” who study and work in their home region. Unsurprisingly, this group comprises nearly half (45%) of the entire graduate workforce. “Regional loyals” tend to have less of a background in higher education and are more likely to work in the health and education sectors than their peers. These “loyals” make up over half the graduate workforce in North Ireland, Scotland, Wales, North East and North West England. A fifth of “loyals” returned to previous employers of some kind after graduation.

Finally, twelve percent of graduates, the “stayers,” remained near their university to work. This group was most likely to have careers in media or the arts, and they also used their universities’ career services the most. They were the least likely to use traditional media to find their jobs. “Stayers” make up around 20% of the workforce in Yorkshire and Humberside.

As mentioned, the most surprising aspect of the report is that graduates who return home (“regional returners”) end up making less than their peers (“regional incomers,” “loyals,” and “stayers”) who embarked on different routes of employment.

“Graduates aren’t as mobile as is sometimes believed and we need to recognise that in many parts of the country, the graduate labour market will be dominated by people with a prior connection to the area, either as previous residents or students,” says Charlie Bell, the head of higher education intelligence at Prospects.

The results of the study can be used by lawmakers, educators, and, most importantly, university career services centers to prepare graduates successfully to find employment after attaining their degrees.

“A significant group go home after university as they’re unable to secure work and consequently find themselves in less satisfactory careers. On the other hand we see that people from more affluent backgrounds seem to be more likely to move around in search of better-paid jobs, particularly in finance and technology, and this has implications for the social mobility agenda,” Bell added.