The great British brain drain: an analysis of migration to and from Crawley

This briefing offers a detailed look at the migration patterns of graduates and students to and from Crawley

The economic performance of UK cities is increasingly dependent on the skills of their workforce. Cities across the UK face the challenge of both attracting and retaining high-skilled talent. The Great British Brain Drain investigates migration within the UK, specifically between cities. It finds that many university cities lose their graduates to London, with this movement especially strong for the highest performing graduates with 2.1 or 1st class degrees from Russell Group universities. Despite this, most university cities experience a ‘graduate gain’: they gain more graduates than they lose. This is because the majority of movements to and from cities consist of students moving to a new city for university, and then moving again for work, with over half of all graduates following this pattern.

This briefing is a complementary piece of analysis to the main report, in which we look in detail at the nature of migration and graduate mobility into and out of Crawley. First, it looks at overall migration patterns into and out of Crawley. Secondly, it looks specifically at the movements of students and new graduates. Finally, it looks at the new graduate labour market in the city.

Net flows into Crawley, 2009- 2015

Key Findings

Crawley gained graduates. A net outflow of 16 to 21 year olds, many of which left to go to university, was followed by net inflow of 22 to 30 year old degree holders. Although only a small proportion of those students who had left returned to Crawley, the city attracted a significant number of new graduates for work with no prior links to the city. This resulted in a net gain of 920 graduates.

The city attracted new graduates from the Greater South East. The largest share of the new graduates working in Crawley had no prior links to the city, and this is higher than other cities without a university. Two thirds of these new graduates came from the rest of the Greater South East. This indicates that Crawley is an attractive place to work within this economically successful region.

Its strong private sector facilitated this. Crawley had the lowest share of new graduates working in the public sector and the largest share of new graduates working in Logistics and Communications of all UK cities. Its large private sector is likely to be a strong contributing factor to Crawley’s success in attracting many graduates for work.