Graduates staying on in university cities could offer investment opportunity

When selecting an ideal buy-to-let location, even landlords who aren’t keen on letting to students ought to consider major university towns, with many graduates choosing to remain in the area after their studies as they become young professionals.

After finishing university, some students move back in with their parents, others go on gap years, or sign up to postgraduate courses – but lots will be looking to get straight into the world of work, and a good starting point for many is the city or town where they’ve spent the last three or four years of their lives.

Whether students stick around after their courses can depend on a number of factors. At the top of the list, availability of jobs and suitable, affordable accommodation will be key, as many will be starting at a low point financially. But highly skilled graduates who stay on in an area will undoubtedly drive local growth and productivity.

According to the most recent data available from Universities UK, rates of graduate retention vary hugely from region to region. In the academic year ending 2015-2016, the two regions in England that came out on top with a retention rate of 66% were the north-west and – unsurprisingly – London.

When looking specifically at postgraduate leavers, the retention rate in the north-west was the highest in the country at 66%, beating London’s 65%.

The lowest retention rates were seen in the East Midlands, which only saw 42% of its graduates remain in the area for employment, and the south-east of England where just 44% of graduates stayed on.

Homing in on the north-west

In Greater Manchester specifically, more than half of higher education leavers between 2010/2011 and 2014/2015 remained in the area and gained employment, according to the most recent data available from the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA).

The city has seen exponential improvement in the jobs market and local economy in recent years, with more than 8,000 new jobs created by the Northern Powerhouse vision over the past four years and another 850,000 expected to be created by 2050. Aside from this, the housing market for recently graduated young professionals in the region is a major draw.

Gareth Hammond of estate agency Hatched, said: “Affordability is the main attraction; you get far more for your money in Manchester than in London, without compromising on quality.

“With many new and affordable apartment complexes springing up in prime locations, young professionals can live right in the heart of the action and be a part of a modern growing city that is only going to keep improving.”

Meanwhile, the Lancashire region, home to the University of Central Lancashire (UCLAN) in Preston, Lancaster University and Edge Hill University in Ormskirk, has seen increasingly strong performance in graduate retention rates, with 37% of people who studied there staying in the area for work.

With Preston going from strength to strength amid massive extra investment in the area, while UCLAN is about to be granted approval for a new, £60m state of the art flagship student building, the area is likely to see huge boosts to the local economy.

For buy-to-let landlords looking for the next big opening in the market, demand in such areas is likely to be consistently strong among graduates wanting to stay on and find work after employment, and the regeneration seen in the cities of the north-west will put the region firmly on the radar for growing numbers of young professionals looking to put down roots.

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