Like other large cities, Liverpool’s migration patterns are dominated by movements of university students and graduates. There is a large net inflow of young people into the city for university, and the largest net outflow occurs as students leave on graduation.

Overall the city gains graduates. An inflow of students to study in the city’s higher education institutions is followed by an outflow of degree holders. But these movements mask the underlying trend of Liverpool gaining graduates. While many people who come to study leave upon graduation, some remain, and this increases the number of degree holders working in the city. The net gain in graduates is equivalent to 2,600 of the graduates who responded to the survey.

Liverpool’s universities play different roles. LJMU and Liverpool Hope have a much stronger regional pull than the University of Liverpool and Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts. The latter universities attract a significant proportion of international students and students from outside of the North West. As a result, the retention rates of the universities vary: the former group retain a much higher proportion of graduates as they principally attract local students, who are more likely to stay on graduation.

Any policies designed to increase retention should keep in mind these different roles. The University of Liverpool’s ability in particular to pull in students from further afield should be seen as a success. But without a greater number of job opportunities for new graduates, many will leave after. This pulls down the retention rate of the university.

Ultimately this means that it is the jobs available to graduates that determine how many stay. Improving the job opportunities available to graduates in Liverpool will improve the city’s ability to retain the graduates it produces, as well as attract in graduates from elsewhere. If policy makers want to increase the number of graduates working in Liverpool, be that either through higher retention or through greater attraction, then policy will need to focus on improving the economy rather than more narrowly focusing on direct graduate