3 April 2014 10:45

Lancaster University welcomes a report by Universities UK that highlights the growing importance of the higher education sector to the UK economy.

The ‘Impact of Universities’ report, which was announced by David Willetts, Minister for Universities and Science, on Thursday, April 3, shows the sector now generates more output than industries such as advertising, market research, legal services, computer manufacturing, air transport and basic pharmaceuticals.

The report looked at data from 2011-12 and shows that higher education contributes more than £73 billion of output, contributes 2.8 per cent of GDP (up from 2.3 per cent in 2007), and accounts for 2.7 per cent of all UK jobs – equivalent to 757,268 full time positions.

Higher education’s importance as an exporter was also highlighted. The sector generates £10.7 billion of export earnings for the UK through international students - £3.8 from outside the EU.

Mark E. Smith, Vice-Chancellor of Lancaster University, said: “Lancaster University is a major employer and the students we attract from home and abroad contribute substantially to the local, regional and national economy.

“In addition to direct economic benefits from employing staff and bringing in students, research intensive universities, such as Lancaster, are able to contribute significantly to the wider economy by working collaboratively with businesses of all sizes on research, licencing of intellectual property, and through the academic excellence of management schools.”

The Universities UK report showed that North West England was the regional economy that benefited the most from its universities outside of London and the South East.

North West universities including Lancaster, contributed a total of 74,218 jobs within the region in 2011-12 through the universities directly, and also from student expenditure. This equates to 2.3 per cent of the entire regional workforce.

The knock-on effects to other industries in the UK from North West universities was £3.48 billion – with £2.91 billion benefiting businesses in the region.

Lancaster University has a nationally-leading reputation for working with UK SMEs. Since 1998, the university has worked with more than 5,000 SMEs to help provide economic growth and it was ranked in the top ten of UK universities for SME-engagement by the recent ‘Encouraging a British Invention Revolution’ report by Sir Andrew Witty.

The Universities UK report can be downloaded from here.