Focus on: Graduates in Manchester

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New study shows Manchester is a popular destination for graduates seeking to begin careers.

A new study by shows increasing numbers of graduates are looking to work in Manchester after recent regenerations have opened up opportunities in the city. Looking at user data over a ten-year period, has analysed the top location choices for graduates and noted a big increase in university-leavers choosing Manchester in recent years.

The study shows 52% of graduates between 2011 and 2016 would like to work in Manchester, compared to just 35% in the five preceding years. One possible explanation for the rise in the city's popularity amongst graduates is the regeneration across parts of the city, including the docks in Salford and transportation links.

Matthew Fraser, a native Mancunian who studied English at Goldsmiths, University of London, says the city is trying to become a hub for graduates.

"There have been many efforts to make the city more attractive to graduates and young professionals. A new tram system and cycling lanes are just some of the recent infrastructure improvements. There's definitely a great community spirit and creative atmosphere."

The most notable change in Manchester in recent years is the development of MediaCityUK, the new headquarters for many of the BBC's and ITV's operations. Matthew works at the new complex producing subtitles for live television and says the redevelopment is a big factor in attracting graduates to the city.

"It was much publicised when both the BBC and ITV moved a lot of their operations [to MediaCityUK]. That diversification of the media/creative industry was one of the main reasons behind the project and has been very healthy for jobs, especially competitive media jobs."

Matthew admits it is not just the media and creative jobs experiencing a rise in popularity among university-leavers.

"Although I know a little less about the science and technology sector, I know it's thriving in Manchester," he says. "For an example, take the excitement around the recent discovery of graphene in the city."

The growing industries in Manchester means the city offers opportunities which challenge those available in London. Laura Swift, a PhD student and part time tutor for education charities in Manchester, says the city benefits from a lower cost of living than the capital.

"There's always been lots of innovation in Manchester and most industries are well represented here. Most big companies have offices here, and the universities and public sector are also big employers," she says.

"Manchester is benefitting from people being priced out of London and realising that a major Northern city like Manchester has all of the benefits of London but without having to build up crippling debts while you start your career."

Laura has lived in both London and Manchester and believes the northern city is much more manageable for those just starting out.

"I know a few people, including myself, who graduated from Manchester, moved to London, and then came back to Manchester after a few years," she says.

"It's not a big secret that London is expensive to live in, but if you're earning an entry-level salary or trying to support yourself through internships it's practically impossible to afford a decent quality of life."

While many graduates working in London do earn a higher salary than in Manchester, Laura says the difference does not amount to much when compared to the cost of living.

"Salaries might be slightly lower outside London, but the cost of living is just so much lower. My rent for a whole two bedroom flat in Withington, South Manchester, is exactly the same as I used to pay for one room in an ex-council flat in Homerton, East London."

"And you don't have to look far to find a pint for three pounds or less."

Image credit: M.V. Photography /