The impact of universities on UK economy 4th report

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The impact of universities on the UK economy Fourth report

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  • The impact of universities on theUK economy

    Fourth report

    48157 UniUK Impact on Economy:43586 UniUK Variable Tuition 09/10/2009 11:22 Page i

  • This report was produced for Universities UK byUrsula Kelly, Donald McLellan and EmeritusProfessor Iain McNicoll of the University ofStrathclyde.

    The impact of universities on the UK economy:fourth report

    The copyright for this publication is held by Universities UK. The material may becopied or reproduced provided that the source is acknowledged and the material,wholly or in part, is not used for commercial gain. Use of the material forcommercial gain requires the prior written permission of Universities UK.

    The opinions in this publication are not necessarily those of Universities UK. Whilstevery effort has been made to ensure the completeness and accuracy of thispublication, the authors and Universities UK give no warranty in that regard andaccept no liability for any loss or damage incurred through the use of, or relianceupon, this report or the information contained within.

    48157 UniUK Impact on Economy:43586 UniUK Variable Tuition 09/10/2009 11:22 Page ii

  • 3 Preface

    4 Summary1

    7 Introduction

    28 University income

    311 Employment profiles of UK universities

    413 University expenditure and its knock-on impact

    on the economy

    516 Additional impact of international students and


    618 The higher education contribution to UK Gross

    Domestic Product

    719 The sectors effectiveness in generating

    economic impact

    821 Conclusions

    Appendix22 Notes on modelling methodology 24 Notes25 Select bibliography


    Universities UK The impact of universities 1

    The impact of universities on the UK economy:fourth report

    48157 UniUK Impact on Economy:43586 UniUK Variable Tuition 09/10/2009 11:22 Page 1

  • 26 Table 1 Overall impact of the higher educationsector on the UK economy, 2007/08

    8 Chart 1 University revenue, 2007/08

    9 Chart 2 Industry comparisons: sectoral grossoutputs, 2007/08 ( million)

    9 Table 2 Estimated sources of university income,2007/08

    9 Chart 3 Sources of university revenue, 2007/08

    10 Chart 4 Sources and types of increased incomebetween 2003/04 and 2007/08

    11 Table 3 Employment in UK universities, 2007/08

    11 Chart 5 University full-time-equivalentemployment profile, 2007/08

    13 Table 4 Output generated in the economy byuniversities, 2007/08

    14 Chart 6 Total output generated by UK universities2007/08

    14 Chart 7 Secondary output generated by UKuniversities by sector, 2007/08

    14 Chart 8 Secondary employment generated byuniversity expenditure, 2007/08

    15 Chart 9 Employment generated by UKuniversities, 2007/08

    15 Chart 10 Occupational profile of employmentgenerated by universities, 2007/08

    17 Table 5 Impact of international student andvisitor expenditure, 2007/08

    18 Table 6 The contribution of the higher educationsector to UK GDP, 2007/08

    18 Chart 11 Higher education contribution to GDP (O)compared to other sectors, 2007/08

    19 Table 7 Total impact per 1 million expenditure,2007/08

    19 Table 8 Impact efficiency rankings, 2007/08

    20 Chart 12 GDP impact comparisons, 2007/08

    21 Table 9 Overall impact of the higher educationsector on the UK economy, 2007/08

    Index of charts and tables

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  • Universities UK The impact of universities

    Such activity depends on a continuing mix of publicand private investment in the sector. Income fromprivate sources amounts to 26 per cent of allhigher education income with considerablevariations between institutions but publicinvestment (61 per cent of the total) will continueto play a vital role in the development of the sector.It is evident from the findings of this report thatsuch investment has a direct impact on the UKeconomy and employment levels as well asmaintaining the health of the sector.

    Professor Steve Smith


    Universities UK

    This is the fourth study of the impact of thehigher education sector on the UK economywhich has been published by Universities UK. Itupdates earlier studies published from 1997.Since the first report appeared the economicimportance of higher education has been muchmore widely recognised and its contribution tonational and regional economic development isan important influence on policymaking. Highereducation is seen in the UK as being of keyimportance in the creation and transfer ofknowledge to the economy through its teaching,research and other activities.

    The latest report provides new evidence of theimpact of universities as independentbusinesses (additional to their role in increasingthe stock of human capital). The economicactivity generated by university expenditure (theaspect of the sectors economic contributionwhich is most readily quantifiable) is substantial.The scale of university activity across the UK alsomeans that this can be very important at themacroeconomic level. The higher educationsector is comparable to the printing andpublishing and legal activities industries andlarger than the pharmaceutical, aircraft andspacecraft and advertising industries in the UK.

    The report confirms the growing economicimportance of the sector, which had an income of23.4 billion a year in 2007/08 (compared with16.9 billion in 2003/04), gross export earnings of5.3 billion and employed more than 1 per cent ofthe UKs total workforce. In terms of its widereconomic impact the sector generated over59 billion of output. The equivalent figure fiveyears ago was nearly 45 billion, confirming arapid growth in economic impact. The studydemonstrates that the effectiveness of the highereducation sector in generating impact is relativelyhigh compared to other sectors of the economy.

    The report also confirms the substantialemployment effect of higher education activity,with around 670,000 jobs being created throughoutthe economy in 2007/08. Of these some 372,000people were directly employed by universities andcolleges. It provides further evidence of theimportance of international students to the sectorand the wider economy. One significant impact isthe volume of personal off-campus expenditure ofthese students, which amounted to 2.3 billion in2007/08.



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  • 4Methodology and data sources

    The study is based on the 166 universities andcolleges included in Higher Education StatisticsAgency (HESA) data for the academic year2007/08. (These institutions are referred to asuniversities throughout this report.) The studyexamined the key economic characteristics ofuniversities and the impact generated by theiractivity. It also considered the impact of the off-campus expenditure of EU and internationalstudents (that is, all non-UK domiciled students)studying at UK universities. Modelled estimateswere also made of the impact of the off-campusexpenditure of international visitors attracted tothe UK by the universities. The off-campusexpenditure of UK domiciled students wasexcluded as this may not be regarded asadditional to the UK economy as a whole.

    The model used was a purpose designed andspecially constructed type II input-outputmodel based on actual UK data derived from theOffice of National Statistics input-output tables(2006) together with data from its Blue Book(2008)1.

    Data on university finance, staffing and studentswere obtained from HESA. Other data sourcesincluded Travel trends (Office of NationalStatistics) and a student expenditure survey(2009), published by the former Department forInnovation, Universities and Skills, as well as theLabour Force Survey and Annual BusinessInquiry.

    Key findings

    The overall impact of the higher educationsector

    p Higher education sector impact is defined inthis study to be that of the universitiestogether with that of their internationalstudents and visitors.

    p Through both direct and secondary ormultiplier effects, this generated over 59 billionof output and over 668,500 full time equivalentjobs throughout the economy. The totalemployment generated was equivalent toaround 2.6 per cent of all full time equivalentemployment in 2007.


    The role of higher education in the economy isattracting growing attention in all developedcountries. In particular its potential contributionto economic prosperity, through innovation andknowledge exchange to the wider society, isregarded as vitally important for economicdevelopment and growth. At a time of globaleconomic crisis governments across the worldare looking to their universities to supportnational and regional economies, through thedevelopment of new ideas, products and servicesfrom research as well as through continuing toraise the education levels of citizens andincrease the national capacity to innovate andadapt. In the UK it is increasingly recognised thatthe higher education sector forms a core part ofthe economic infrastructure, generatingemployment and output, attracting exportearnings and contributing to the gross domesticproduct (GDP). The strength of the sector and itseffectiveness in generating economic activity hasbecome all the more important in a severerecession when other sectors of the economy arecontracting.

    This study presents key economic features of UKhigher education in the academic year 2007/08and those aspects of its contribution to the UKeconomy that can be readily measured. It doesnot, therefore, include any assessment of thevalue of the sectors collaboration with businessor the impact of new ideas generated byuniversities or their graduates. The sec