Russell Group capital spending ‘comparable to 2012 Olympics’

The Russell Group will spend £9 billion on capital projects over five years, “comparable” to the UK’s spend on hosting the Olympics, a report claims

May 20, 2014

Source: Rob Wilson/

The estimates are made by consultants BiGGAR Economics in a report for the Russell Group, published today, which looks at the economic impact of capital spending by the group’s 24 large research-intensive universities.

The report argues that “investment that supports the competitive position of Russell Group universities will directly support the future growth of the UK economy”.

Capital funding for universities has been hit particularly hard by government austerity.

Wendy Piatt, Russell Group director, urged the government “to step up big capital investment in our universities. We will keep investing on behalf of our students and academics but the rest of the world are snapping at our heels and spending money to match their ambition. We must do the same.”

Over a 25-year period “capital investment by Russell Group universities is expected to generate gross value added (GVA) with a current value of £44.3 billion for the UK economy”, says the report, titled “Economic Impact of the Capital Investment Plans of the Russell Group Universities”.

The capital projects are “expected to support more than 95,000 UK jobs”.

In order for these institutions to maintain their “competitive position” in research, international student and staff recruitment, and rankings, “it is essential that Russell Group universities continue to invest in high-quality facilities that will deliver the kind of student experience and research environment expected of world-class universities”, says the report.

Of the £9 billion spend on capital investment in the five years to 2016-17, the report states: “This is comparable in value to the rail investment programme announced by the UK government in 2012 that was described by deputy prime minister Nick Clegg as ‘the biggest expansion in railways in over 150 years’.”

“It is also comparable to the £8.9 billion that was reportedly spent hosting the 2012 Olympics in London,” the report adds, citing a newspaper report on Olympic costs.

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