It is feared the North of England is experiencing a "brain drain" of university graduates as many move to cities like London to improve their career prospects, according to a new report.
Researchers from the Institute for Fiscal Studies say geographical inequalities are being worsened by graduates moving from more deprived areas to cities to improve their career prospects.
Policymakers should think about how to attract and retain talent in less well-off areas, they add.
Ethnic minorities and those from lower socio-economic backgrounds are less likely to move than their peers, according to the IFS report, which was funded by the Department for Education (DfE).
Cities, like London, which already produce large numbers of graduates, gain more through migration, while there is 'brain drain' from the North and coastal areas, which already produce low numbers of graduates.
Xiaowei Xu, a senior research economist at the IFS and co-author of the report, said: "In moving from more deprived areas to London and other cities, graduates improve their own career prospects, but this exacerbates geographical inequality in skills.
Nick Hillman, director of the Higher Education Policy Institute (Hepi), said: "As many policymakers are among those who have left the area where they grew up for the bright lights of London, they tend to struggle when trying to explain why this is a bad journey for other people to make.
"So all in all, this is yet another challenge for the new ministerial team and especially those with responsibility for levelling up."
A DfE spokeswoman said:
"That is why we are providing billions of pounds in new funding to support levelling up across the country, improving services and increasing local opportunities.
"Universities are playing a central role in this mission, engaging locally and partnering with businesses so that all students, regardless of location or background, are able to pursue a meaningful career."