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For the first time, HEFCE has brought school and higher education data together with employment and mobility data to give a comprehensive and detailed picture of higher education participation and provision, employment and graduate mobility.

Professor Madeleine Atkins, HEFCE Chief Executive, said:

‘As the Government seeks to ensure that economic recovery and growth is more evenly shared across different localities and industry sectors, universities and colleges continue to play a critical role in supplying a highly educated and skilled workforce, providing opportunities for individuals while meeting the needs of the economy and society.

‘The data shows us that the issues associated with HE cold spots can often be complex. Higher education providers, working collaboratively with their local enterprise partnerships, will be able to use this powerful new toolkit to establish a detailed picture of HE in their localities, enabling them to identify any gaps in provision, participation and the supply of graduates. This provides a strong evidence base to explore potential solutions for delivering local economic recovery and growth.

‘Universities and colleges play a key role as economic and social ‘anchors’ in their local and wider communities. Working with local partners in this way to reach a joint understanding of the issues that affect them collectively, they can make an important contribution to the ongoing development of Strategic Economic Plans, and also, of course, to decisions about where and when to invest different forms of funding.’

Provision by location

HE provision is particularly low (contrasting markedly with high concentration in London) in some rural and coastal areas including:

  • border areas between England and Wales
  • along the Cumbrian coast
  • Humberside and North Yorkshire
  • from Kent to the Wash
  • the south-west. 

Uptake of higher education

The HE picture across England’s cities is varied and complex.

  • In Leeds and Birmingham, where there is a relatively high number of higher education institutions, the proportion of young people progressing to higher education is lower than expected in relation to their GCSE attainment.
  • In the Liverpool area, despite some of the lowest UK levels of young people entering higher education, participation is actually higher than expected once GCSE attainment is taken into account.

Links between employment and HE qualifications

The maps demonstrate a link between unemployment and the proportion of the population holding HE-level qualifications.

  • In areas around Liverpool and Manchester, where fewer than 16 per cent of adults hold a HE qualification, there are unemployment rates of nearly 10 per cent.
  • In areas around Cambridge, where over one in four adults hold a HE qualification, unemployment rates are lower than 4 per cent.

Graduate mobility and employment

The data show that students tend to move back home to find work after graduating and that the further from London a student is brought up, the more likely they are to find employment in their home region.

  • Six months after graduating, 80 per cent of graduates who grew up in the North East were employed in this region.

Just 56 per cent of graduates who grew up in the East of England were employed there six months after graduation. 

Notes

  1. The data maps are compiled using the most recent sources including HEFCE’s Participation of Local Areas (POLAR) measure and Research Assessment Exercise, the Higher Education Statistics Agency’s Student record and Destination of Leavers from Higher Education survey, Skills Funding Agency’s Individualised Learner Record, and the Office of National Statistics’ Census.  
  2. The Cold Spots data will be launched at a conference held for the HE sector and local enterprise partnerships on 1 October 2014.
  3. See the data