Executive Summary

Migration between Manchester and the rest of the North West region is very common. A third of those moving into the city came from the North West, and a third of those leaving Manchester stayed in the region. Overall, between 2009 and 2017 more people left the city to live elsewhere in the UK than moved in, leading to a net outflow of 31,620 people.

Young people migrate to the city for university and work, while older graduates move away. The city is an attractive place for both students and young professionals given its universities, job opportunities and amenities, but as workers age, they start to value more spacious homes. The city saw a net outflow of 31-to 45-year-old graduates between 2010 and 2011 but most stay close within a commutable distance to the city.

A third of Manchester’s university students grew up in the city, and one in five is an international student. The city’s universities also attract many students from London and Birmingham. But the make-up of students varies a lot by institution. The University of Manchester has a diverse group of students, with only 27 per cent from the North West while two-thirds of the University of Salford’s students are from the region.

Manchester has one of the highest retention rates of all UK cities. Over half of graduates stay to work in the city, compared with 29 per cent retention in Leeds and 31 per cent in Liverpool. The universities with the most local students had the highest retention rates.

Manchester gains more graduates than it loses. It has the largest gain in graduates of all UK cities except London. Interestingly though, many of Manchester’s university students are only in the city to study, they move in and then out again on graduation. The overall gain occurs despite these movements and shows the national and international educational role the city plays.

Manchester attracts graduates despite offering low wages. The average graduate salary is lower than in most UK cities, but this research shows that wages are not the major priority for graduates. They look for career progression opportunities when choosing where to work.