Welsh universities support one in 20 jobs across the country, according to a study published today (5 October) on the economic impact of higher education in Wales.
The report, commissioned by Universities Wales and carried out by Viewforth Consulting, found that in the academic year 2019/20 the total employment generated by HE institutions, their staff and students, amounted to 61,722 jobs in the country (4.85% of all Welsh employee jobs).
In total, the sector yielded £5.3bn for the Welsh economy.
“What is most notable about the findings of this report is not just the immediate economic impact of the activities our universities carry out, but how our institutions bring benefits right across local communities and, indeed, across Wales,” said Professor Elizabeth Treasure, the recently appointed chair of Universities Wales.
According to the study, higher education is responsible for 22% of jobs and 20% of the GDP generated in local authority areas without a university, thanks to the purchasing of services and goods from other sectors, as well as staff and student spending power.
“This report clearly illustrates what universities mean for Wales’ economy,” added Prof Treasure.
“From providing access to education and skills to working with business on cutting edge research and innovation, the work that our universities do is closely intertwined with the people and places of Wales.”
The report found that Welsh universities directly employed 20,730 people, as well as indirectly generating an additional 25,289 jobs in other industries across the UK (19,690 in Wales).
Universities also boosted the Welsh economy by attracting almost 22,000 students from beyond the UK. Cumulatively, they were responsible for 11.8% (£661m) of all Wales’ service sector export earnings.
“This report confirms the pivotal role that universities play in the Welsh economy, generating tens of thousands of jobs and billions of pounds in output each year,” said the study’s author, Ursula Kelly.
“These numbers demonstrate the way in which universities further individual and national prosperity, offer opportunities through employment, and generate significant impact in their communities as local anchors for regional- and community-led economic growth.”
This report clearly illustrates what universities mean for Wales’ economy – Prof Elizabeth Treasure, chair of Universities Wales
The report was welcomed by economy minister, Vaughan Gething, who pronounced himself “particularly pleased [that] Wales outperforms the other UK nations on the proportion of graduate start-ups per capita, with an impressive variety of businesses emerging from Welsh universities. These businesses help us retain our talent, which is vital for Wales’ future economic prosperity.”
His words were echoed by Dr David Blaney, chief executive of the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales, who said: “This report shows how our higher education sector continues to play a crucial role as a generator of growth and economic and social prosperity.
“[Universities] are key players in their regions and across Wales, through their community-based activities and civic mission ambitions, and also maintain international links that help Wales become a partner of choice for international business and investment, and an attractive destination for international students and staff.
“It is vital that we continue to support our universities to enable them to make a full contribution to helping us navigate through the global, social and economic challenges of the future.”