The London Brain Drain: Why Graduates Are Flocking to the Capital

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London is undoubtedly a magnet for newly graduated students who have their entire working career ahead of them. Sometimes the pull of the capital becomes too strong to resist, especially for a student, with a degree behind them, looking for the best job that they can possibly find. But it has been said that the belief that London is the crème-de-la-crème is having a knock-on effect on other UK cities. Graduates often neglect other cities such as Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds as they gravitate towards the bright lights of London. 

London boasts an extensive amount of jobs, as well as established links with blue-chip companies in most industries. For a graduate searching for their first proper job, this is music to their ears. With that said, the city becomes even more attractive when you consider the other qualities it has to offer – fine food, diverse culture and a good (but often over-priced) nightlife. 

With the London luxuries also comes a pretty expensive price tag. It’s a well-known fact that London is not the cheapest of cities, and with the average rent price for a house in London being £1,600 a month, it is often not a viable option for many graduates. For many, Manchester’s average rent payment of £750 is much more appealing. Also, when you pay £5 for a drink that you would pay £2 for up North, it begs the question: Is it all really worth it? 

Clearly, London has a strong pull, drawing many graduates and professionals into its gravitational field of the M25. However, when graduates flock to London with their career aspirations packed in their swanky briefcase, another UK city suffers from the issue of declining professionalism and lack of graduates within their workplace. 

Many businesses are struggling to fill the graduate-sized hole in their company because of London’s talent-sucking ability. A study named ‘The Great British Brain Drain’ found that, from Russell Group students with a first or a 2:1 in their degree, 38% of graduates have moved for a job in London – a whopping thirteen times more than Manchester. With London at the top of the hierarchy, the flock of graduates there could be detrimental, to not just our economy. But also our diversity and city dynamic. Contrary to popular belief, London is not always a concrete jungle where dreams come true.

‘Neglected’ cities are fighting to become second-best to London, with Birmingham being dubbed ‘Britain’s second capital’. Closer to home, large companies in Leeds are doing their best to ensure that graduates can secure jobs in the city they studied in. For example, Channel 4 unveiled that Leeds is now home to their national HQ. This will create an influx of jobs and graduate schemes, as Channel 4 and many other companies have voiced their interest in hiring newly qualified university students.

So, although London seems like the obvious contender for graduates looking for a change of scenery, there is a life outside of the M25 as well.

Gemma Lavers