New analysis aiming to show which UK cities offer the best value for money for graduates has prompted a call for greater contextualisation of graduate earnings data.
Charlie Ball, head of higher education intelligence at Prospects, which conducted the research, says that broad figures, while a useful indicator, can lead to poor choices when not contextualised with geographical cost-of-living data.
A graduate may need an extremely attractive offer in London, far above the average salary, for it to be worth them leaving a less expensive labour market
He said: “Graduates may need to think carefully about chasing the highest possible salary if it means moving to somewhere with a high cost of living, particularly rents. A graduate may need an extremely attractive offer in London, far above the average salary, for it to be worth them leaving a less expensive labour market.
“This analysis calls into question the overall value of uncontextualised graduate salaries as a measure of graduate success. Widely available and better-quality data on cost of living will improve decision-making. Graduates need to understand where value lies for their degree and whether it is worth remaining in a well-known jobs market on a lower salary or moving for more money where costs are higher. It’s a common assumption that the latter choice is always better, but the data strongly suggests that it is not.”
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The analysis also found that many of the UK’s most popular student cities are among the most expensive for new graduates to start work.