Glasgow ranks first when it comes to students wanting to stay after graduation

Glasgow ranks first in Scotland and fifth in the UK when it comes to students staying on in a city after they graduate.

New analysis by the Centre for Cities, a London-based think-tank, found 46 per cent of students in Glasgow choose to stay on after graduation, with only London, Manchester, Birmingham and Belfast having higher retention rates.

Edinburgh’s retention rate came in at 42 per cent, while Aberdeen was fractionally higher at 43 per cent. Dundee ranked at just 26 per cent.

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While about a third of Glasgow graduates already lived in the city before entering university, it also does well when it comes to so-called graduate gain. This means the number of non-local graduates working in Glasgow is greater than the number of local graduates who have left the city to work elsewhere.

Andrew Fleming at the Gallery of Modern Art. He says he fell in love with Glasgow. Picture: John DevlinAndrew Fleming at the Gallery of Modern Art. He says he fell in love with Glasgow. Picture: John Devlin
Andrew Fleming at the Gallery of Modern Art. He says he fell in love with Glasgow. Picture: John Devlin

Creative arts, computer science and law graduates were the most likely to stay in the city.

Glasgow School of Art is top when it comes to retaining graduates, with just over half deciding to stay on after finishing their studies. Of those graduates who stay, 65 per cent were not originally from Glasgow. The proportion of retained graduates from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland who are not from Glasgow was even higher at 71 per cent.

Andrew Fleming, 25, who grew up in Kirkcaldy, left Glasgow School of Art two years ago and decided to stay on in the city to pursue his career as a silversmith.

“I’d fallen in love with the place,” he said. “It’s full of great people. I had considered moving to London, but with the ease of transport I can go down there on business and come back in a day.

“Then there’s the cost of living. I was 24 when I graduated, I had done my time living in horrible student flats. My partner is also a secondary school teacher. I was already making my life here.”

Andrew Carter, chief executive of Centre for Cities, said its analysis suggested Glasgow now needed to do more to attract graduates from other parts of the country.

“Glasgow has one of the highest student retention rates in the UK, with almost half of people who study in the city staying for work after graduation,” he said.

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“While this demonstrates the strength of the city’s economy, more can be done to also attract recent graduates from elsewhere. To do this, the policy makers in Glasgow should prioritise the further expansion of high-skilled job opportunities in the city.”

The figures were compiled as part of HESA’s latest Destinations of Leavers from Higher Education survey.

A spokesman for Glasgow City Council said: “The findings of this report are pleasing and show Glasgow’s success in retaining our graduates and developing a highly skilled workforce that attracts global companies to locate in the city.

“However, to attract and retain both graduates and major employers, a city needs more than just world-class universities and workforces. It must also have assets such as an attractive lifestyle, competitive living and business costs, and a strong business support network – and this is where Glasgow comes into its own.”