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New data reveals HE and graduate cold spots

Graduates are more likely to find employment in their home region the further away they live from London, according to new data.

According to new figures published by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE), almost 80 per cent of students who grew up in the North West and North East are able to find work in their home region six months after they complete university. While a similar proportion of students who grew up  in London found work there after completing their studies, significantly smaller proportions of those from nearby counties were able to find work at home after graduating.

Only 56 per cent of graduates from the East of England were able to find work in the region, while the percentage was 61 per cent for  those in the South East and East Midlands and 66 per cent of those from the South West. As a result, students from these regions tend to go further away in the country and elsewhere to find work.

The data published by HEFCE also reveals a “cold spots” in higher education provision and participation across the UK.

According to the datasets, young people living in London, West Midlands and the areas around Liverpool, Manchester and Newcastle are the most likely to be  within an hour’s drive from a higher education institution.

Participation rates are generally lower in rural areas of the country – such as the South West, Cumbria and border areas between England and Wales - where young people have to travel the furthest to find a higher education institution.

But surprisingly, some of the areas of lowest participation can be found in inner cities where there are relatively high numbers of universities in close proximity. In areas of Liverpool, London, Newcastle and Birmingham, as few as 10 per cent of young people go on to higher education, despite each city boasting a high number of higher education institutions.

In addition, the data shows links between university education and unemployment rates. In areas around Liverpool and Manchester, where fewer than 16 per cent of adults hold a HE qualification, there are unemployment rates of nearly 10 per cent. Meanwhile, in areas around Cambridge, where over one in four adults hold a HE qualification, unemployment rates are lower than 4 per cent.

Professor Madeleine Atkins, HEFCE Chief Executive, said:  “The data shows us that the issues associated with HE cold spots can often be complex.

“Higher education providers, working collaboratively with their local enterprise partnerships, will be able to use this powerful new toolkit to establish a detailed picture of HE in their localities, enabling them to identify any gaps in provision, participation and the supply of graduates. This provides a strong evidence base to explore potential solutions for delivering local economic recovery and growth.”