Creative ways out of slump

October 22, 2009

If the gross domestic product figures due next week show no sign of recovery, it will be the first time the UK has had six successive quarters without growth.

This leaves me wondering why the UK needs to sell its wares, including the student loan book, for a few billion pounds when it is sitting on an undeveloped, and globally recognised, economic goldmine.

While we may not have a manufacturing base to rival the Chinese, or pharmaceuticals to match the US, Britain does hold a couple of very useful cards in the lucrative and growing creative industries.

Go to the heart of Los Angeles, Tokyo and Taipei and you'll be at home name-dropping places such as Bristol, Guildford and Salford. These places have become major contributors to the animation, gaming and digital content industries worldwide. About 40 per cent of computer games titles originate in the UK.

We generate more than 16 per cent of our GDP from the creative industries, much of that in the form of creative content. Computer game sales have risen despite the slump.

By 2012, 2 billion people are likely to have access to the internet, with perhaps as many as 3 billion with access to a mobile phone. The need for creative content is likely to soar as a result. The Digital Britain report outlined the Government's ambition to transform the UK into a leading digital economy by 2012.

The worldwide digital economy is set to be worth $1 trillion (£614 billion) by 2010, and the UK could lose out on £6 billion by 2013 if it is not able to respond to global demand.

Countries such as Taiwan, China and Canada must be delighted to see us capping student numbers in areas that underpin our leading industries. We should invest in our trump card and realise the potential of our creative industries.

Elaine Thomas, Vice-chancellor, University for the Creative Arts.

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