Page navigation

Are graduates willing to relocate for a job?

November 2021

Prospects Luminate surveyed students to find out what factors would persuade them to relocate for a graduate job opportunity - and why some plan to stay in their home area to look for work

There's a common misconception about graduate migration which suggests that students move to attend university and then leave en masse for London on graduation.1 However, this is not an accurate picture of graduate migration. In reality, the majority of graduates - whether they remained in their home region for university or moved away - seek employment within their home region after graduation. This pattern that has remained constant for nearly two decades.

Recent research using Graduate Outcomes data found that over 40% of all first-degree graduates are 'Loyals' - graduates who remained within their home region for university and then went on to find employment there 15 months after graduation. Similarly, just under a quarter (24%) were 'Returners' - graduates who returned to their home region for work after moving away for university.2

While some have assumed that a graduate's decision to remain within their home region for work represents a lack of ambition or an unwillingness to 'move where the jobs are', graduates choose to remain in their home regions for a variety of reasons, such as connection to friends and family, and a sense of belonging.3 Nevertheless, this does not mean that all of these graduates are unwilling to relocate for jobs in the future.

Prospects surveyed 190 graduates in October to find out what, if anything, could entice them to relocate for work. Likewise, we asked those who are unwilling to relocate to give their reasons as to why.

,Would you relocate for a job in the future?
Yes ,62
Don't know,22

Why relocate?

When asked whether they were willing to relocate for a job in the future, nearly two thirds of respondents (62%) said that they were.

Why do you want to relocate for a job?
Better job prospects75%
To earn a higher salary64%
There aren't many opportunities where I live46%
I plan to relocate abroad for work45%
I want to work in a different area36%
Lower cost of living36%

Asked for their reasoning, three quarters suggested that they would be willing to move for better job prospects, with 64% indicating that they would relocate for a higher salary. This supports previous findings that suggest that most graduates appear to be willing to relocate for the 'right job', with the perception of better job opportunities and higher salaries acting as a 'strong pull factor' influencing students to go elsewhere.4 Consequently, regional businesses must work in tandem with their local universities to ensure that the local labour market is attractive enough to counteract this.

Nearly half (46%) of the respondents who said that they were willing to relocate for employment indicated that they would do so because of a lack of opportunities where they live, suggesting that some areas struggle to provide enough attractive job opportunities to retain graduates throughout their careers.

Moreover, just over a third (36%) said that they wanted to relocate to an area with a lower cost of living than the area they currently reside in. This is an important factor for graduates to consider as a higher salary doesn't always mean greater purchasing power. For instance, graduates living in places like Liverpool, Stoke and Sunderland are likely to have greater spending power than those living in Oxford, Cambridge or Brighton on the same salary - with the latter being among the least affordable graduate destinations in the UK.

Why stay?

Why don’t you want to relocate for a job?
I don't want to move far from my family/friends74%
It's too expensive to relocate55%
It sounds too stressful52%
I want to stay/work in my local area48%
I want to work remotely so I don't need to relocate32%
My area has the best job prospects7%

Just 16% of the respondents in this survey indicated that they wouldn't be willing to relocate for work in the future. Asked why, the vast majority (74%) said that they didn't want to move far from family/friends, which reinforces the notion that - for some graduates - their connection to their local community is an important point of consideration as they look for employment. Furthermore, just under half (48%) stated that they simply desired to employ their skills within their local area.

A third (32%) of respondents suggested that they didn't have any desire to relocate because they wanted to work for a company that allowed them to work remotely. This is interesting, as there is an emerging consensus that many professional roles are likely 'to transition to a hybrid model, split between home and office', which will ultimately lead to a partial erosion of the link between where one resides and where they work. This way a graduate who desires to work for a London-based employer may no longer be required to move there.5


  1. What do graduates do: Regional edition, Luminate, 2019.
  2. Graduate migration patterns in the UK, Luminate, 2021.
  3. What do graduates do: Regional edition, Luminate, 2019.
  4. No place like home: graduate attitudes toward place and mobility, Luminate, 2019.
  5. Graduate migration patterns in the UK, Luminate, 2021.

Get insights in your inbox!

Related articles

Loading articles...





This article is tagged with:

Event: {{}}



This event is tagged with:

Loading articles...