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The UK Cities With The Best Graduate Retention Rate

June 3, 2024

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Key Highlights


A roundup of some of the best university cities that are just so good students don’t want to leave.


While many students choose to move onto pastures or even return to their hometowns after finishing their degrees, more and more are opting to remain in their university cities to live and work. This article looks at the top cities with the best graduate retention rates, what makes these cities so special, and why this is so important for the property investment industry.


Why are graduate retention rates important for investors?

Graduate retention rates are a key metric to be considered for property investors, as they give a strong indication of rental demand and real estate availability in an area. Towns and cities that have a strong graduate retention rate mean that a large number of students will remain in the area to live and work, meaning that there are more opportunities for property investment. This demographic tends to be considered high-quality renters, as they tend to enter high-paying jobs after finishing their degrees. 

This constant and consistent demand for housing in a university city often means fewer void periods, higher rental yields, and stable property prices. These areas are also more likely to experience economic growth and an enhanced job market as the city holds onto a more educated workforce, making the area even more desirable for property investors.


The Top 5 UK Cities With The Best Graduate Retention Rate


It’s no surprise why so many students choose to remain in London, the UK’s exciting capital and a leading city on the global platform. London attracts thousands of students every single year, from both home and abroad. In January 2023, London’s universities recorded over half a million students, with this population being a strong mix of local and global. An incredible 49% of students opt to remain in the city and it’s easy to see why.

London is the epicentre of culture, economics, politics, and business. It is home to countless startups and established businesses, making it the number one destination for internships and graduate opportunities. Not only is it popular with London students, but it’s also a top destination for students who move there from other cities after finishing their education.



Also high on the list is the Northern England city of Manchester. The city has a fantastic graduation retention rate of 51%, with plenty of students choosing to stay behind due to the fantastic range of job opportunities, nightlife, and culture the city boasts. Overtaking Birmingham as the UK’s “second city”, Manchester has become a tech and finance hub, with thousands of businesses choosing to make their base there. It is also home to MediaCityUK in Salford – a tech and media hub that is home to the likes of the BBC, Warner Brothers, ITV Studios, and more, all of whom are major employers. 



Birmingham is a truly international city. It is home to three world-class universities – the University of Birmingham, Aston University, and Birmingham City University. It is well connected to major UK cities such as Bristol, London, Manchester, and Liverpool through rail and car. It is also hugely internationally connected via the Birmingham International Airport, which flies to 150 destinations across the world. 

These fantastic connections and cheaper rental and housing costs have made the midlands city a prime destination for businesses to set their bases there, attracting more students to stay after their studies have finished. Not only that, but its cultural richness is a huge part of getting students to remain in the city. So, how many students choose to stay? The graduate retention rate for Birmingham is an incredible 41% each year.



A northern powerhouse, Leeds is an unassuming but powerful city with a wide range of industries and trades. Notably, Channel 4 has a base there and is a big employer in the tech and media scene. Leeds is also home to plenty of legal, financial, and industrial companies that entice thousands of students to stay post-graduation.

Job opportunities Besides, the city is also famous for its nightlife and entertainment which is another reason why so many students – 39% of them to be exact – are opting to remain. This, coupled with cheap rent and living costs, has made Leeds a home for many graduates.



Surprisingly, the northern city of Sunderland also comes high on the list. It is a port city in Tyne and Wear, in the northeast of the country. Close to Newcastle, it is known for its maritime and engineering industries and as such has become popular with students looking for jobs in those fields. Nissan is one of the biggest employers in the city. 

Currently, 39% of students opt to remain in the city. A lot of them are pulled in by industries, as well as cheaper than average rental and house price costs, and the nightlife.



North Property Group is a property investment agency and end-to-end lettings agency which focuses on UK off plan and buy to let properties across the UK. Not only do we source properties in the cities listed above, but we also offer premium UK property developments across a range of popular student cities across the UK.

Book a free consultation with us today to start your UK buy to let investment journey and tap into the UK’s premium off plan property opportunities.

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