02A more detailed look at the movement of students and graduates
The data above suggests that universities play an important role in the movements of people to and from Coventry. This section explores the migration patterns of students and graduates into and out of the city using two data sets from the Higher Education Statistics Authority (HESA). The first looks at admissions (for all students at university in 2014/15), and the second is based on a survey of graduates six months after graduation (for leavers in 2013/14 and 2014/15). Unlike the ONS data used above, it covers the whole of the UK and includes students who came from abroad.
Box 1: Higher education institutions in Coventry
This analysis covers the University of Warwick and Coventry University’s campus in Coventry. In the academic year 2014/2015 there were 23,690 students at the University of Warwick and 27,360 at this Coventry University campus.
Coventry has the largest share of foreign students among UK university cities
Almost a third of students in Coventry – 31 per cent – came from outside the UK. This is the highest proportion among UK university cities. Of these, 23 per cent were from the EU. When we look at breakdown of students coming from the UK, the largest group was from the West Midlands, with 8 per cent coming from Coventry and 20 per cent from the rest of the region.
Looking specifically at cities, Figure 9 shows which UK cities university students in Coventry have moved from: 14 per cent of students who moved to Coventry were originally from London and 12 per cent were from Birmingham.
Coventry University is more regionally focused than the University of Warwick
If we look at the origins of students by institution as shown in Figure 10 and Figure 11, the two universities in Coventry show different pulls. While a third of students at both universities came from abroad, when we look at the origins of these foreign students the University of Warwick had a higher share of EU students – 25 per cent – than Coventry University – 19 per cent. When we look at students from the UK, Coventry University had a more regional pull attracting a large share from the West Midlands: 18 per cent came from the rest of the region and 16 per cent from the city. In contrast, the University of Warwick had a more national pull: its largest share – 30 per cent – came from the Greater South East.2 13 per cent came from the rest of the West Midlands and 6 per cent from the city itself.
More than two fifths of young people in Coventry who went to a UK university stayed and studied in Coventry
When we look at where Coventry students decided to study, the data shows that 42 per cent stayed in Coventry, the 18th highest among UK cities. The majority of those students who moved to study elsewhere did not go very far: 29 per cent of those who moved remained in the West Midlands and 23 per cent moved to the East Midlands (Figure 12). If we look at the cities they moved to, 25 per cent moved to Birmingham and 9 per cent to Leicester (Figure 13).
Figure 12: Destination of those moving away from Coventry for university, 2014/15
Movements of new graduates
Coventry has one of the lowest graduate retention rates
As a city, Coventry retained 15 per cent of its graduates in the 2014-2015 period. As Figure 14 shows, this is the fourth lowest among UK cities. The cities with the highest rates were London and Manchester, keeping 77 and 51 per cent of their graduates respectively.
However, there are some differences in the retention rates between the two universities. At 18 per cent, the share of graduates staying in Coventry after graduation was higher for Coventry University than for the University of Warwick – 6 per cent.
Further nuance can be seen by splitting those who remained in Coventry after graduation into two groups: those who grew up, studied and worked in Coventry, and those who came into study and stayed for work.
As shown in Figure 15, 41 per cent of all retained students from Coventry University were originally from Coventry. In comparison, 32 per cent of those retained by the University of Warwick were originally from the city.
This means that for Coventry University the retention rate was more strongly driven by those graduates originally from Coventry than was the case for the University of Warwick, where more than two thirds of all graduates retained were not from Coventry. This is reflective of patterns across the country with those universities that have a more local pull retaining a larger share of graduates.
London is the most popular city destination for Coventry’s graduates.
Figure 16 shows the cities to which graduates from Coventry moved for work. Within 6 months of graduation London was the most common employment destination among Coventry graduates – 29 per cent of Coventry’s graduates who moved were working in the capital. Birmingham was the second most popular destination, with 16 per cent.
The city attracted new graduates from elsewhere
Another component of graduate migration comprises of those attracted into Coventry after graduation to work. While graduate retention figures tend to get a lot of attention, the ability of a city to attract in new graduates from elsewhere is an important part of increasing the number of degree holders in a city.
There are two groups within this cohort: those that grew up in Coventry, moved away to study and returned for work, and those that moved in for work but had not lived in the city previously.
Looking first at returners, those students who moved away from Coventry to study, 38 per cent returned for work. The highest rates were in London and Manchester with 74 and 58 per cent respectively.
Turning to those who moved in for work, Coventry was relatively less attractive than other cities to new graduates who had not lived in Coventry before. The number of new graduates attracted in for work that had no previous connection to Coventry was equivalent to 39 per cent of the graduate workforce, the 34th highest among UK cities.
Coventry gained graduates overall
Combining this data on student and new graduate moves shows that overall Coventry experienced a small graduate gain. Between 2013 and 2015, 1,325 graduates who responded to the survey had left Coventry to go to university elsewhere, whilst, 2,115 respondents, who did not grow up in Coventry, were employed in the city after graduation. Figure 17 shows the size of this graduate gain. In absolute terms, this places Coventry as the 21st highest gainer of graduates when compared with other UK cities. London gained 42,070 of the graduates who responded to the survey and Manchester gained 4,770.
This finding may not appear to square with the earlier finding about the net outflow of young graduates from Coventry. This is because there is one final cohort of students: the bouncers. These students move into Coventry to study and leave straight after graduation. Of all the students who moved to Coventry, 90 per cent bounced, the 6th highest rate among UK cities with a university campus. This cohort causes a lot of noise in the data. By excluding them and comparing the number of (would be) graduates in Coventry before university with the number of graduates in the city after graduation, the graduate gain figure can be calculated. But as Figure 18 shows, the graduate gain was almost a tenth of the total number of bouncers, and this is why there is an outflow of young graduates as shown earlier.