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Local students' perceptions of careers services

February 2020

Rosie Alexander examines local students' views on the support available from their university careers service, with particular focus on issues of geography and mobility

Key findings

  • Approximately one third of students (34%) are committed stayers in the region, and do not want to move.
  • 32% of respondents wanted to move away from the Highlands and Islands region after graduation, but the majority of these said that they were 'unable to leave'.
  • A greater proportion intended to remain in the local area in the short-term following graduation than expected to still be there after ten years, suggesting 'staying local' is a temporary strategy for some.
  • Having a rewarding job, a good quality of life, suitable housing and living somewhere safe were all 'important' or 'very important' motivations for post-university destinations. Having a well-paid job was a less important motivator for many.
  • Students were very positive about the university careers service and it was the top preference of students accessing careers support, however uptake of services was low.
  • Students who were committed to the area struggled to identify careers services as relevant to themselves – viewing their ability to proactively ‘choose’ a career as limited by the size and structure of the rural labour market.
  • Practical barriers to mobility were issues for some, as well as more widely issues of transportation, accommodation and family commitments.

To address these issues, careers services working with students and graduates in rural areas need to consider:

  1. development of community-based approaches – including partnership work with local stakeholders and approaches which focus on building connections of students with employers, other students and their wider community;
  2. negotiation and advocacy with employers to increase accessibility of graduate vacancies- including relocation packages and flexible working options;
  3. development of services specifically targeted at the needs of rural students and graduates
  4. marketing and promotion of services to highlight their relevance to local students.

Download the full report

Addressing issues of geography and mobility in the provision of Higher Education Careers Education and Guidance

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Download the full report

Download PDF file Addressing issues of geography and mobility in the provision of Higher Education Careers Education and Guidance

About the report

This HECSU-funded research report builds on existing work around the issues of geography and mobility in careers services. In particular, it explores student perceptions of careers services, adding their voices and ideas to the developing body of literature. The focus for the project is on university students who studied in the most remote and rural regions of the UK through the University of the Highlands and Islands.

Identifying students' perceptions of careers services - including the ability of careers services to support student mobility and help those seeking local work opportunities - were a key element of this project.

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