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 Preston. 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: University of Central Lancashire
This analysis covers the University of Central Lancashire campus in Preston. In the academic year 2014/2015 there were 25,120 students enrolled at this university.
Preston’s university mainly attracts students from its own region. In the academic years 2014/15, 69 per cent of students at university were from the North West, with 15 per cent from Preston and 54 per cent from the rest of the North West. The next large group was foreign students – 11 per cent.
Looking specifically at cities, Figure 9 shows which UK cities university students in Preston have moved from and highlights the regional pull of Preston’s university: 15 per cent of students who moved to Preston were originally from Manchester. The second largest share of students – 7 per cent – came from Blackpool.
More than a third of all young people in Preston who went to a UK university studied in Preston
When we look at where Preston students decided to study, the data shows that 37 per cent stayed in Preston, the 27th among UK cities for share of stayers. The majority of students that moved elsewhere did not go very far: 56 per cent moved to the rest of the North West and 13 per cent moved to the Yorkshire and the Humber. If we look at the cities they moved to, 21 per cent of these movers went to study in Manchester and 9 per cent went to Liverpool.
Overall, for the academic year 2014/15 there were 12,190 more students who moved into Preston to study than left Preston to study elsewhere. This was the 19th largest net inflow of all UK cities.
Movements of new graduates post university
Preston retained a fifth of its students on graduation
As a city, Preston retained 22 per cent of its graduates in 2013-15 period, the 27th highest rate among UK cities with a university, as shown in Figure 12. The cities with the highest rates were London and Manchester, keeping 77 and 51 per cent of their graduates, respectively.
Manchester was the most popular city destination among Preston’s graduates.
Within 6 months of graduation Manchester was the most common employment destination among Preston graduates – 18 per cent of Preston’s graduates who moved were working in this city. The next most common cities to move to were Blackpool and Blackburn with nine and seven percent respectively (see Figure 13).
Another component of graduate migration comprises of those attracted into Preston 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.
Again, there are two groups within this cohort: those that grew up in Preston, moved away to study and then returned for work, and those that moved in for work but had not lived in the city previously.
Looking firstly at returners, those students who moved away from Preston to study, 34 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, Preston was relatively less attractive than other cities to new graduates who had not lived in Preston before. The number of new graduates attracted in for work that had no previous connection to Preston was equivalent to 29 per cent of the graduate workforce, the 14th lowest among UK cities with a university.
Preston gained graduates overall
Combining this data on student and new graduate moves shows that overall Preston experienced a small graduate gain. Between 2013 and 2015, 1,840 graduates who responded to the survey had left Preston to go to university elsewhere, whilst 1,960 respondents, who did not grow up in Preston, were employed in the city after graduation. Figure 14 shows the size of this graduate gain. In absolute terms, this places Preston as the 39th highest gainer of graduates when compared with other UK cities. London gained 42,000 of the graduates who responded and Manchester gained 4,700.
This finding may not appear to square with the earlier finding about the net outflow of young graduates from Preston. This is because there is one final cohort of students: the bouncers. These students move into Preston to study and leave straight after graduation. Of all the students who moved to Preston to study, 87 per cent bounced, the 14th 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 Preston before university with the number of graduates in the city after graduation, the graduate gain figure can be calculated. As Figure 15 shows, the graduate gain was much lower than the number of bouncers, driving the outflow of young graduates shown earlier.