Southampton’s vibrant economy persuades its graduates to stay says Grant Thornton

Southampton is such a vibrant place to live and work that more than a quarter of its graduates are staying on in the area, according to leading business and financial adviser Grant Thornton UK LLP.

Major improvements to the city centre, a thriving jobs market, affordable housing, local attractions such as the coast and New Forest, excellent transport links and a rich cultural presence all contribute to an attractive package for Southampton graduates.

Grant Thornton highlights the vibrant local economy as an ideal opportunity for talented graduates to realise their potential by living and working in the city.

The HESA Destination of Leavers from Higher Education Survey indicates that 26 per cent of graduates from University of Southampton decide to put down roots in the area following the completion of their studies.

This is in comparison with universities of a similar size – for example, 34.9 per cent of graduates from the University of East Anglia remain in that area, the University of Surrey has 24.3 per cent, the University of Brighton is 16.9 per cent, University of York is 16 per cent, University of Exeter is 12.6 per cent, University of Bristol is 11.8 per cent and University of Bath has 7.2 per cent of its graduates remaining.

Norman Armstrong, partner at Grant Thornton UK LLP’s Southampton office, said:

“Southampton now has a thriving local economy and is certainly attracting graduates from its universities to seek a successful future, with great career prospects and a more affordable cost of living compared with other cities.

“The attitude that a university city is a stop-gap rather than a place to put down long-term roots is changing. Southampton is certainly proving that with these figures.

“It is a hugely popular place to study as the universities offer a wide range of excellent degree courses and the city centre has an exciting and cultural environment.

“Some graduates can be quick to move away, so businesses in the region need to ensure they are taking advantage of the talent on offer and the opportunity for the city to realise its potential.”

As part of the firm’s purpose to help build a vibrant economy, Grant Thornton is convening people and organisations from the private sector, public sector and third sector to help build an economy that will work for individuals, communities and businesses.

A spokesman for the University of Southampton said:

“The university graduate destinations survey suggests that 26 per cent of our recent graduates who stay in the UK are employed within Hampshire. Nearby London attracts just over 21 per cent of our graduates.

“It is important to remember, of course, that this has a cumulative effect. We know of nearly 70,000 alumni members who live within 50 miles of Southampton. Within the boundaries of the city itself, this means that just under 13 per cent of the city’s over-20-year-olds are University of Southampton alumni.”

Luke Thomas, originally from London, decided to stay in the city when he graduated with a journalism degree from Southampton Solent University. He said:

“After completing my degree, there were a number of factors which brought me back to Southampton after a brief return to Enfield. I was offered a job in Southampton, so I jumped at the chance to move out of the family home and come back swiftly – I now have a great career.

“I loved my time here as a student – with two universities in the city there was always a lot going on. I made lots of friends and many of them are still living here.  I know the city really well now. The recent improvements and forthcoming plans demonstrate that it’s a great place to live.

“The New Forest is on my doorstep and it’s only 100 miles from London, with excellent transport links.  In comparison to London, Southampton is less expensive to live in, yet there’s lots to do and great opportunities.”