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7th Sep, 2023

Victoria Sartain
Victoria Sartain
Job Title
Senior Content Writer

The healthy rivalry between Oxford and Cambridge universities is centuries old, with the annual boat race perhaps the most well-known of contests. Cambridge rowers were victorious in this year’s event on the Thames, and it seems the city’s winning streak continues, with data from the latest Bloomberg UK and Reed Jobs Report indicating Cambridge has the edge when it comes to job creation.  

Why Cambridge leads the way in job creation 

Both cities host elite universities that cultivate the best and brightest minds. Both are desirable places to live and work with good connections to the capital. But in terms of job vacancies, Cambridge is leading the way with a larger number of job openings available per worker, according to Reed jobs data, analysed by Bloomberg.  

In fact, both cities are outperforming others in England, in spite of gloomy predictions by investors that a combination of Brexit, immigration policies and a lack of public investment are contributing to economic stagnation.  

James Reed, Chairman and CEO of Reed, said: “Both Oxford and Cambridge have a rich history of academic excellence and innovation, and this has naturally spilled over into their local economies. The success of these cities demonstrates the potential for universities to play a significant role in local economic development.” 

Reed’s job data shows that since 2018, the number of vacancies per 10,000 workers in Oxford has typically been around 140% higher than the national average, while in Cambridge that extends to 270%. 

Cambridge is ahead of Oxford too in terms of job openings in science, IT and engineering, according to our data. And salaries for Cambridge jobs have typically been higher than the national average, while less consistent in Oxford. 

Integral to Cambridge’s success is its physical development in recent years to accommodate and attract new business and residents. It’s had the space in the city centre to draw investors and young entrepreneurs, while Oxford hasn’t quite caught up. Both cities are however welcoming large corporates such as AstraZeneca Plc, GSK Plc, Amazon and Samsung AI – with the ongoing development of Cambridge’s new city quarter, CB1, set to become a world-class tech and science hub. 

The report will surely fuel the historic rivalry between the cities and Oxford isn’t resting on its laurels. While it has work to do to increase job opportunities, it seems to beat Cambridge for entrepreneurial spirit. According to a recent report from data company Beauhurst, the University of Oxford was responsible for 205 spin-outs since 2011, topping the table and ahead of the 145 that came from the University of Cambridge.  

Graduates looking to reside in their university cities don’t have far to look to find like-minded colleagues to help them build their startups. And with ongoing developments in technology, there’s scope for innovation and to be the first to create life-changing solutions, as well as new jobs. AI, in particular, has generated a feverish excitement that has the potential to extend beyond the cities, benefitting businesses in more rural areas. 

So, what if the Oxford and Cambridge jobs blueprint could be adopted by other UK cities? James Reed believes prestigious universities are not the only key to success: “Incentives for innovation, the creation of entrepreneurial clusters, and the encouragement of new businesses have all played crucial roles,” he said. 

Read the full report here