UK universities generate £95 billion for the country’s economy and support more than 940,000 jobs across the nation, according to an analysis from Universities UK.
The research, which relates to the 2014-15 year, found that universities’ gross contribution to the economy represents an increase of 15 per cent in real terms since 2011-12.
The study, which was produced for Universities UK by Oxford Economics, also said that the gross value added contribution of universities’ own operations to the country’s gross domestic product is £21.5 billion (or 1.2 per cent of GDP), 22 per cent greater than that produced by the whole accountancy sector and almost 50 per cent more than the contribution of the advertising and market research industry.
The £95 billion figure relates to the contribution once the knock-on effect of their expenditure was calculated.
Universities also support more than 940,000 jobs, or 3 per cent of the total, across the UK, according to the study.
International students generated a total of £25.8 billion in gross output, through on- and off-campus spending by them and their visitors, and supported 250,000 jobs, the report said.
The analysis added that universities now generate a larger annual turnover than the UK’s legal sector, the advertising and marketing sector and air and spacecraft manufacturing.
Meanwhile, less than one-third (31 per cent) of universities’ income came from the public sector in 2014-15.
However, Janet Beer, president of Universities UK and vice-chancellor of the University of Liverpool, said that universities’ contribution to the economy and jobs should not be “taken for granted” because institutions face “many challenges”, including “increased global competition, uncertainty over student funding and the potential impact of Brexit”.
“This report is a timely reminder to policymakers of the increasing economic, social and cultural impact of universities on their local communities,” she said.
“Universities are often the largest employers in their area and, through links with businesses and in attracting students from overseas, they bring in significant investment from around the world to all the UK’s nations and regions. The knock-on impact of universities on local businesses and jobs has supported the regeneration of many deprived towns and cities.”
Universities and science minister Jo Johnson said: “England's universities have a vital role to play in generating the knowledge and skills needed to fuel our economy. They are a great national asset, but there can be no room for complacency.
"Our universities need to find a new gear in their engagement with business, so that we maximise the value of record levels of public investment in research and development, and embrace the greater accountability our reforms are putting in place for the quality of teaching and student outcomes."