Life After Uni: Graduates Reveal the Best Cities to Settle After Study


It can often feel like you’re heading into the unknown once you’ve tossed your mortarboard and collected your scroll. With university behind you, deciding where to settle and find work is the next major step in your life. Research conducted by student accommodation providers Liberty Living asked former students about their experience in different university cities, offering some insight into where might be best for recent graduates deciding where to live after uni.

With the help of 2,000 recent UK graduates, they found out which cities are best for retaining their students, where you will find networking opportunities and grad job availability, and how the city performs when it comes to factors that make it a great place to live.

Where Are Students Choosing to Stay?

When it comes to the important decision of what to do once university is over, 58% of students choose to leave their city of study. One-third (33%) moved back home, and a quarter (25%) moved on to new pastures. The cities that are best for retaining their students give a good indication of some of the best places for postgrads in the UK.

The top ten university cities for student retention are below:

  1. Glasgow – 51% (stayed in the city post-graduation)
  2. Edinburgh – 51%
  3. London – 47%
  4. Birmingham – 41%
  5. Leeds – 39%
  6. Sunderland – 39%
  7. Cambridge – 39%
  8. Newcastle – 36%
  9. Norwich – 33%
  10. Southampton – 32%

The results show students studying in Scotland are the most likely to stay, with Glasgow and Edinburgh out in front. In England, it maybe comes as no surprise that the huge range of opportunities available in the capital means almost half (47%) of students settle for work.

What Are the Top Locations for Grads?

The former students were asked to rate various factors that make a city the right fit for students and graduates. This has revealed some of the best cities in the UK for recent graduates who are unsure where their next chapter begins.


When asked about their experience in the Scottish city, former students had a lot of positive things to say about Glasgow. For those on a job hunt, 60% of graduates rated the networking opportunities in Glasgow as good or excellent, which is the 2nd best in the UK after Cambridge. It’s not short of job availability either, with 53% rating the post-grad opportunities as good or excellent (4th best in the UK).

When it comes to living in the city, the graduates didn’t hesitate in singing Glasgow’s praises. 78% rated the city culture as good or excellent (1st in the UK), 79% said the same for the city’s atmosphere (2nd in the UK) and the city’s amenities. Not only does Glasgow have an abundance of opportunities for postgrads but it has everything you need when you aren’t in the office.


Graduate opinion of Edinburgh also supports its second-place position for student retention. It too makes a great place to live for young professionals. 73% rated the culture and heritage as good or excellent, 72% said the same for the city’s atmosphere. It also makes a great place for a night out, with 68% impressed with the bars and clubs on offer.

Edinburgh was also one of the best cities in the UK when it comes to taking that next step after studies are over. Over half (54%) said the networking opportunities available in the Scottish capital were good or excellent. 43% also said the career advice and support available for postgrads was good or excellent, one of the highest in the UK.


The largest city in the UK, and a business hub for some of the top brands in the world, there is no shortage of opportunities for graduates in the English capital. 56% of former students rated the networking opportunities available in London as good or excellent, fourth-best in the UK behind Glasgow and Oxbridge. Perfect if you’re trying to build an impressive portfolio of professional contacts. 47% said the career advice and support for postgrads is good or excellent, and 45% believe there is a wealth of opportunities available.

London also scored well when it came to what the city has to offer recent graduates. With the likes of Harrods and Selfridges, it comes as no surprise that 73% rated the city amenities as good or excellent. Over two-thirds (67%) said the same for the atmosphere and 65% for the culture. 77% also commended London for its transport and the accessibility to other places, which can be important for those who travel with work.


Fifth on the list of cities best for student retention, the Yorkshire city of Leeds also makes a great city for postgrads. Leeds is one of the best places in the UK if you’re looking for the availability of well-priced accommodation; 66% rated this as good or excellent (2nd in the UK). It’s also extremely popular for its atmosphere and nightlife. According to the research, Leeds has the 3rd best atmosphere and nightlife in the UK.

As well as being a great place to live, Leeds is also one of the better performing cities when it comes to job availability and networking opportunities. Over half (52%) said the networking in Leeds is good or excellent, and 45% said the same for job availability. Leeds makes a great city to take the next step in your career but also promises to be a great city to live in.


Despite Bristol not making it into the top ten cities for student retention, it deserves a mention because of how highly it was rated by former students. If you have your eyes set on the South West, you can look forward to living in the city with the best atmosphere, the best amenities, and the number one city for nightlife in the UK. It was also voted to have the second-best city culture, with 74% rating it as good or excellent. In terms of finding the right place to live, the research says there is nowhere better than Bristol for young people.

Bristol also did well for university career advice, with 44% rating it as good or excellent. It was also voted the best city for picking up valuable life skills, with 57% of graduates saying their preparedness for the real world as good or excellent. There aren’t as many networking and job opportunities than other top cities, but Bristol still makes a worthy prospect for recent graduates.


What makes a great post-grad city really depends on the individual, everyone looks for different things when deciding on what to do and where to settle after university. Some move to be near family, some fall in love with the city, and others go wherever the best job takes them. This research lets you know what other graduates thought of cities around the UK. It might just give you the information you need to make the best decision for your future.



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