Select Committee on Science and Technology Written Evidence


Supplementary evidence from the Regional Developments Agencies (RDAs)

Q1.  Please could you supply any data that you have on the proportion of new graduates that take up jobs in the region in which they studied? [Q 284]

  1.  The data on graduate take of jobs in the region in which they studied is not straightforward, since many graduates return to their region of domicile to take up employment. The available data is generally for graduates as a whole rather than specifically for SET graduates. We have tried to summarise the data here together with some information on RDAs operate graduate retention schemes.

  2.  Although it seems fairly obvious to expect some regional disparities in graduate employment and in retention of graduates within the region they studied reports about the graduate labour market rarely include any regional breakdowns including those relating to SETs (science, engineers and technologists). A general shift to London and the South East is the main flow, although the North West also performs strongly in attracting graduates. For instance:

    (i)  "What graduates do?" (see provides a subject but not a regional breakdown for jobs taken by undergraduates (though a similar report on masters graduates does, see below);

    (ii)  A 102 page Engineering Council report (2003) contains a digest of statistics on engineers but makes no reference to regional patterns;

    (iii)  The SET for Success report (The Roberts Review) did not include any regional statistics, nor did the DTI's report SET4women.

    However, a research study in progress at DTI is analysing graduate employment on a regional and sectoral basis (but not by subject), which should be finished soon, and so data will be available in future (for further details of the SG project contact

  3.  Some regions are more concerned than others with graduate retention, eg SWRDA and EMDA have both undertaken specific research projects to find out how to try to stem the outflow from their region (see para 5 below).

  4.  HEFCE produces an annual Regional Profiles report (see ), which gives a great deal of information about HE in each region, and includes graphs showing the percentage of graduates from HEIs in each region who find employment within their region. However, there is no single graph showing the regional pattern of retention, and no separate figures for SET graduates. Estimates taken from each of the regional sections of that report [see Table 1] show that London is the most successful region in retaining its graduates (70%), followed by the North West and North East (62% and 59% respectively). The least successful is the East Midlands (39%).

  5.  The HEFCE report uses HESA data on destinations of leavers from HE base on the annual returns by HEIs. HESA publishes a table annually (in a report which has to be purchased, not available on website) showing a geographical distribution of UK domiciled students remaining within UK and entering employment in their region of domicile (NB this is by region of domicile, not by region of HEI). Data on this are shown in Table 2. This shows Greater London and North West as being most successful regions in retaining their domiciled students (66% and 69% respectively), and East England being the least successful (46%).

Table 1: Percentage of graduates staying on to work in the region of their HEI (first degree graduates, 2003)

Region of HEIs
% of graduates in jobs staying to work in region of HEI

North East
North West
Yorks and Humber
West Midlands
East Midlands
South West
East England
South East

Source: based on data in HEFCE Regional Profiles

Table 2: Percentage of first degree graduates going to work in their region of domicile, (England 2001)

Region of domicile
Total of graduates employed in England
% of total (England) employed in home region

North East
North West
Yorks and Humber
West Midlands
East Midlands
South West
East England
South East
Greater London

  6.  According to "What do Graduates do?" (See, all regions of the UK retain at least half of all of their masters graduates. The least successful regions at retaining masters graduates are the East Midlands (52.0%) and the East (53.7%), both heavy exporters of masters graduates to London. Indeed, the capital was the most likely destination for masters graduates who did not stay in their home region, reinforcing the image of London as a lure for graduates. (NB home region referred to here is region of domicile).

Table 3: Retention of masters graduates by regions of the UK

Region of domicile
% of masters graduates staying to work in home region

Northern Ireland
North East
North West
Yorkshire & Humber
South West
South East
West Midlands
East Midlands

Source: What do graduates do? (

  7.  HESA does not publish graduate employment data on a regional basis by subject, so, in order to find out more about the pattern for SET subjects, a special analysis was ordered. This showed that the most successful regions in retaining their SET graduates are London and the North West (both just over 60%), while the least successful is the West Midlands (41%), followed by East Midlands, Yorkshire and Humber and the South West (45-49%).

Table 4: UK domiciled leavers in SET subjects, qualifying in 2002-03, from English regions and their likelihood of staying in their home region

Location of Institution
Number getting
employment in own
Number getting
employment (all
% getting employment
in own region

North East
North West
Yorkshire & The Humber
East Midlands
West Midlands
South East
South West

  Source: HESA (DELHE survey, 2004, special run)

  Notes for Table 4:

    1.  The coverage is all graduates ie postgraduate and undergraduate qualifications are combined.

    2.  Percentages are calculated as: the number employed in the region of their institution expressed as a percentage of the total number from that region getting employment (in any location, in UK or overseas).

    3.  The SET subjects are: biological sciences, physical sciences, mathematical sciences, computer science and engineering and technology.

    4.  The reference date for this DLHE return was 15 January 2004, ie it refers to the initial employment of graduates, which for most of them is approx six months after qualifying and leaving HE.

  There is likely to be a different pattern for different SET subjects—in particular differences between Computer science and others, and also probably differences between postgraduates and undergraduates. These data are available for further analysis.

  8.  Various regional graduate services are aimed at helping graduates to find employment in their home region, or encouraging others to the region. They mainly offer the following types of services/activities:

    —  Making graduate vacancies more visible, providing information to graduates about local vacancies (on website, central database).

    —  Researching students views, to find out more about what attracts them to the region, or might encourage them to stay.

    —  Giving financial incentives to employers (especially SMEs) to recruit a graduate, or take a student on a work placement.

    —  Outreach work promoting graduates services of HEIs, through eg Business links.

  Some do most of these, others focus mainly on the first one. Some regional services are organised by individual universities, others by regional HEI partnerships, often with RDA funding. The number of graduate projects per region varies between one and six (see www.prospects, for more details of each region's graduate services). A few projects seem to give more emphasis to graduate retention issues than others, ie aimed at promoting the attractiveness of region in employment terms or seeking to counter views that few graduate jobs are available in the region.

  A few examples to illustrate:

    (1)  Yorkshire and Humberside has run a successful Graduate Yorkshire programme see— which has been funded by the RDA (Yorkshire Forward) at a cost of around £900k for three years (2002-05). It has one website which brings three careers services activities together—JobLink (vacancy advertising), Yorkshire Jobshop (part-time and temp jobs) and Impact (encouraging ethnic diversity recruitment)—plus Mad2move, a site which promotes living in Yorkshire. Around 200 live vacancies are up at any one time, and a target of 350 placements annually has been reached. Further funding applications is being considered to continue it, and include more outreach activities and improved careers advice for self-employed.

    (2)  West Midlands has Graduate Advantage—funded by RDA (West Midlands Advantage), to the cost of £3.5 million over five years. This includes a vacancy advertising service, central CV pool, vacancy work placements in SMEs and graduate work placements.

    (3)  North West : NW Sago is a programme funded by the NWDA and Regional office of the NW, at a cost of £175k per year. This includes a vacancy advertising service and e-alert service. Second phase is underway to link it to HE component of new activities of Business Advisers of Learning and Skills Agencies.

    (4)  In East Midlands: EMDA has a set of programmes offering graduate skills to small businesses, aimed at encouraging graduate employment in the region (and so reduce losses to other regions, this has come from the EMDA regional strategy). Get on with Graduates, Graduate gateway and G2B are all aimed graduates (Year in Industry and STEP activities are also encouraged, for undergraduates). See also EmGrad on-line service and report Get Ahead, by Jeanne Booth for EMDA which gives more details of the region's graduates services. Many employers have reported that the graduates performed much better than expected and businesses had experienced real and beneficial changes to products, markets, customer handling and ICT. Even where graduates move on after one or two years, employers were positive about their experience, and looked to recruit again.

    (5)  In South West: Grads Southwest is a collaborative project among all HEIs in region and the RDA (see It promotes the south west region as a place to work, and provides information to both graduates and employers (job vacancies, careers guidance, emails about vacancies, etc). SWRDA commissioned a major research study from IES a few years ago to investigate graduate flows (see Choices and Transitions: a study of the graduate labour market in the South West, 2002)

    (6)  In Scotland, a regional project has focused specifically on the science and technology community——funded by Scottish Enterprise. It includes job alerts, promotion of vacancies, e-alerts, etc.

Q2.  To what extent to universities and businesses need to be located in close proximity in order to facilitate knowledge transfer and commercialisation activities?

  The Community Innovation Survey (CIS 3) in 2001 provides data, which clearly shows [Table 5] that firms with local markets collaborate with their local universities in almost 90% of their collaborations. Even companies with international markets work with local universities in a quarter of their collaborations.

Table 5: UK university business-collaborations split by market size of company and university location. (CIS 3, 2001 cited in the Lambert Review 2003)

Type of firms' largest market
Local university %
National university %
Overseas university %


  International firms can and do access universities across UK and overseas regions. It is the small and medium sized companies who are most likely to need to work with universities in close proximity. These companies make a substantial contribution to the economy—for example in the SE region, 47% of manufacturing GVA comes from companies with 50-500 employees—and form an important target group for the regional initiatives for increasing business-knowledge base collaboration.

Q3.  What influence do Sector Skills Councils currently have over university courses and curricula, and what role do you envisage for them in the future?

  The recently formed Sector Skills Councils include SET-oriented SSCs such as SEMTA, COGENT and e-Skills UK, and are all business-led organisations. For example the e-Skills UK Board is chaired by Larry Hirst, CEO of IBM UK and includes senior executives from Microsoft, Dell, Fujitsu and BT.

  The SSCs are responsible for producing Sector Skills Agreements, which will include:

    —  Labour market intelligence on the demand for skills and the match with the skills supply.

    —  Demand-led advice from business on curricula to encourage greater work-readiness of graduates.

  The SSCs do not directly fund education and will work mainly through influencing funding bodies such as the Higher Education Funding Councils eg HEFCE, and the Learning and Skills Councils. Current dialogue with HEFCE is predominantly on Foundation Degrees, where most additional students are being targeted.

  The RDAs work closely with the SSCs and are in regular contact, for example all Regional Skills Partnerships have SSC representation and several SSCs have regional managers. RDAs can perform a catalytic role through for example, providing local intelligence on supply and demand and funding pilot schemes [see example below].

  The future role for SSCs could include:

    —  Stronger advisory input to funding councils.

    —  Kite-marking of employer-led courses.

    —  Encouraging employer engagement and coordinating business input to course delivery through lectures/presentations, tutorials, projects and work-based placements.

    —  Increasing demand for these courses through improved careers advice and guidance in schools.

  Example: SEEDA has worked with e-Skills UK to develop a new employer-led degree in response to employer demand for more work-ready employees in the area of Information Technology Management. The curriculum was developed in consultation with both employers and academics, and includes a strong emphasis on project management as well as technical and personal skills. Employer input is built into the degree from day one, through "guru" lectures (delivered simultaneously to several universities), tutorial support and advisory input on project-oriented work, and culminates in a work-based project. The degree is currently being piloted by two universities, and is planned to roll out to up to 12 universities across the country.

March 2005

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