Welsh universities contribute to the economy and support jobs

A RECENT report from Universities Wales looking into the economic impact of Welsh universities was published earlier this month, and found that they contribute significantly to the Welsh economy – in terms of exports, output, and creation of jobs.

Aberystwyth University Old College Photo - Tomos Nolan

Aberystwyth University Old College
Photo – Tomos Nolan

The report found that Welsh universities are responsible for 4.6% of Welsh exports, valued at £600m, which is achieved through the increasing internationalisation of Welsh campuses in both research and students. It was also found that Welsh universities generate £5bn of output – both directly and through off campus spending by students and visitors. In addition to this they create tens of thousands of jobs.

The report was undertaken by Viewforth Consulting and follows on from a similar study published in 2013. However, this study uses data from 2014 and uses a more precise methodology.

It concludes that Higher Education is a major economic actor and industry for Wales, generating £2.4bn of Welsh GVA, and creates more than 50,000 jobs in Wales – which is 3.4% of the Welsh total.

It also includes an analysis of the economic impact of Welsh universities across all regions of Wales – finding that every area of Wales benefits from the “knock-on” effects of Welsh universities, even if there is no local university presence.

Universities included in the analysis include: Aberystwyth University, Bangor Unviersity, Cardiff University, Cardiff Metropolitan University, and Swansea University.

Co-author of the research, Dr Ursula Kelly of Viewforth Consulting said:

“Since the publication of our initial report, we can see that the importance of higher education to the Welsh economy has grown even further. This study underlines the fact that while Welsh universities are of considerable importance to Wales through supporting economic development through research and jobs, the universities are also a major economic contributor in themselves through generating output, jobs and GVA.”

Professor Colin Riordan, Chair of Universities Wales and Vice-Chancellor of Cardiff University, stressed the importance of working with the Welsh government, and recognising that universities are assets:

“It is important to recognise that universities are assets – that means not simply resources to deliver programmes of study but major generators of investment and I’m pleased with the findings of today’s report, which show that the contribution Welsh universities make to the economic fortunes of our nation has continued to grow. The economic, social and cultural impact of our universities should rightly be celebrated, and we hope that the report underlines what universities can contribute not just to the economy of Wales, but the very fabric of our nation. It is more important than ever that together with the Welsh Government, we work on finding the solutions to the short-term challenges facing the sector that will enable our universities to sustain and build on  the economic contribution highlighted the report.”