Graduate Attraction and Retention at Regional Scale

University graduates can level up local economies and contribute to productivity growth through the skills they bring to an area and their spending. 

This project aims to shed light on the value of regional graduate attraction and retention. It also identifies different patterns of interregional mobility of recent graduates based on their socio-demographic characteristics and higher education-related factors. Specifically, this project covers:

  • The importance of graduate attraction and retention for local and regional development.
  • Temporal trends in local/ regional graduate retention in the UK.
  • The role of graduate attraction and retention in alleviating regional skills shortages.
  • Understanding the location and mobility strategies of graduates.
  • Sub-national and sub-group variations (e.g., by ethnic group, gender, socio-economic background) in the profile of graduates.Implications of higher rates of graduate retention for inclusive growth.


Research Theme 1

Skills and Local Labour Markets


Key objectives of this project are to:

  • Provide information and insights to policymakers and public authorities concerning issues around the demand for high-skilled employees (i.e., university graduates) regionally and nationally by exploring graduate pathways.
  • Examine and quantify the effect of the factors influencing the location choices of graduates after completing their studies. Using the most recent HESA’s Graduate Outcomes Survey data, this project estimates the likelihood of graduate retention and attraction conditional on a comprehensive set of individual characteristics, university and study factors, and other regional and social determinants that affect the retention/attraction dynamics.
  • Explore different patterns of graduate retention and attraction by industry sector and occupation group. A particular emphasis is placed on estimating the proportion of higher education leavers starting in high growth sectors (such as digital, life sciences, advanced manufacturing, and low carbon industries) in the West Midlands relative to other UK regions.
  • Investigate the extent of the mismatch between the area of study and the sectors the new graduates choose to work in across regions. What is the impact of different academic disciplines (e.g., Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) subjects, Humanities, etc.) on graduate retention rates? For example, are STEM graduates more likely to stay local in some regions than in others?

Publications and Reports

Graduate Pathways: Identifying Patterns of Regional Retention and Attraction
January 2022 - Kostas Kollydas and Anne Green

Regional Brain Drain and Gain in the UK: Regional Patterns of Graduate Retention and Attraction
November 2021 - André Carrascal-Incera, Anne Green, Kostas Kollydas, Alex Smith & Abigail Taylor


Project lead contact details: 

Dr Kostas Kollydas, Research Fellow, City-REDI / WMREDI

Project support contact details: 

Matthew Patterson, Administrative Assistant, City-REDI / WMREDI 


Informational Video for the Project Report