The Regional Impact of Graduate Employment Decisions

As the UK seeks to manage the transition to a high value added, knowledge-based economy, the generation and transfer of knowledge is increasingly important for the UK as a whole, but also for regions and cities. The role of Higher Education Institutes (HEIs) is a particularly interesting one, and is less well understood in the context of regional socio-economic development. This research, commissioned by the ESRC, started with the assumption that it is of great long-term significance to regional and sub-regional socio-economic development that localities are able to retain the stock of human capital they have, develop it, and add to it from the annual additions of HEI graduates. Thus it is important to understand what factors attract students to study in a particular locality in the first instance and then establish what factors influence their subsequent employment decisions, and the impact on cities. Using student destinations data, this research considered how three broad factors influence human capital flows into and out of cities, namely: university quality, local labour markets, and quality of life. It then sought to establish what economic impact net flows of graduates has on cities, in particular in terms of innovative capacity.