Southampton is defying the trend which sees cities across the UK fight to keep their most talented graduates with over a quarter of students choosing to stay in the area after graduating.
The HESA Destination of Leavers from Higher Education Survey shows that 26% of graduates from University of Southampton decide to put down roots in the area following the completion of their studies.
Major improvements to the city centre, a thriving jobs market, affordable housing, excellent transport links and a rich cultural presence have all contributed to the city establishing an attractive package for graduates.
Speaking about the survey, Norman Armstrong, partner at Grant Thornton UK LLP’s Southampton office, said: “Southampton now has a thriving local economy and is certainly attracting graduates from its universities to seek a successful future, with great career prospects and a more affordable cost of living compared with other cities.
“The attitude that a university city is a stop-gap rather than a place to put down long-term roots is changing. Southampton is certainly proving that with these figures.
“It is a hugely popular place to study as the universities offer a wide range of excellent degree courses and the city centre has an exciting and cultural environment.
“Some graduates can be quick to move away, so businesses in the region need to ensure they are taking advantage of the talent on offer and the opportunity for the city to realise its potential.”
A spokesman for the University of Southampton said: “The university graduate destinations survey suggests that 26 per cent of our recent graduates who stay in the UK are employed within Hampshire. Nearby London attracts just over 21% of our graduates.
“It is important to remember, of course, that this has a cumulative effect. We know of nearly 70,000 alumni members who live within 50 miles of Southampton. Within the boundaries of the city itself, this means that just under 13% of the city’s over-20-year-olds are University of Southampton alumni.”
Luke Thomas, originally from London, decided to stay in the city when he graduated with a journalism degree from Southampton Solent University.
He added: “After completing my degree, there were a number of factors which brought me back to Southampton after a brief return to Enfield. I was offered a job in Southampton, so I jumped at the chance to move out of the family home and come back swiftly - I now have a great career.
“I loved my time here as a student - with two universities in the city there was always a lot going on. I made lots of friends and many of them are still living here. I know the city really well now. The recent improvements and forthcoming plans demonstrate that it’s a great place to live.
“The New Forest is on my doorstep and it’s only 100 miles from London, with excellent transport links. In comparison to London, Southampton is less expensive to live in, yet there’s lots to do and great opportunities.”
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