The scale of the contribution the University of the West of England (UWE Bristol) makes to the regional economy has been revealed for the first time.
Independent analysts have measured the impact the university has on the prosperity of the Bristol area in a special report, compiled by Oxford Economics.
They calculated that one in every 79 jobs in Bristol, South Gloucestershire, Bath & North East Somerset and North Somerset was dependent on UWE Bristol’s existence. Altogether, the university supported 8,280 jobs in the region and contributed £400.1m to its economy in 2014/15.
According to the report, the university boosts the city region by stimulating economic activity across a broad range of sectors including construction, accommodation, leisure, transport and tourism. For every £1 million of economic output the university produced during the year examined in the study, a further £430,000 was supported elsewhere in the local economy.
Authors of the report praised the university for helping sustain local businesses through its commitment to purchasing goods and services from local suppliers and highlighted how the spending by its 3,549 staff, 27,800 students and their visitors helped the city to thrive.
The report also underlined the role the university plays in supplying highly-skilled graduates to local employers, attracting students to Bristol from across the globe and developing close links with industry which make a major contribution to innovation, knowledge exchange and business growth.
“UWE Bristol makes a very substantial contribution to the economy of the West of England. It does so through its own operations, its purchases of goods and services from local suppliers, the wage-financed spending of its staff and the expenditure of its students and their visitors.
“In total, UWE Bristol is estimated to have supported 8,280 jobs in the West of England, or one in every 79 people in employment in the area (1.3 per cent). Some 59 per cent was as a result of the University’s expenditure, with the remainder of jobs stimulated by additional students’ and their visitors’ spending.
“The University contributed £400.1 million to the West of England economy. This is equivalent to 1.3 per cent of the local economy. As a result of this activity, in 2014/15, the University, its employees, students and their visitors supported a £88.7 million tax contribution to the Exchequer.”
UWE Bristol graduates are also a major boost to the workforce and supply of skills to businesses and other employers locally. Close to 7,000 students graduate from UWE Bristol annually including, last year, more than 900 nurses and other health professionals, and nearly 400 engineers and 250 computer scientists. Six months after graduation, 96 per cent of UWE Bristol students are in work or further study – a proportion well ahead of the national average.
The report added:
“The University has a major impact on businesses and the local economy through its role in the supply of graduate talent. A significant proportion of the thousands of graduates from the University annually are employed within the city-region, including many of those attracted to study at UWE Bristol from elsewhere.”
UWE Bristol’s world-leading research, its close collaboration with industry and support for innovation and growing businesses also have a major economic impact.
The report says: “The University makes a major contribution to innovation, knowledge exchange and business growth. UWE Bristol’s iNet innovation programme supported around 1,650 businesses, generating nearly 1,000 jobs, more than 500 new products and £28 million in gross value added.
“Other fast growth high technology businesses have benefitted from Innovation for Growth, a £7 million research and development support scheme run by UWE Bristol and financed by the government’s Regional Growth Fund, now in its second phase. In September 2016 UWE Bristol opened Future Space, one of only four University Enterprise Zones nationally, which provides business acceleration, start-up and grow-on space for businesses and promotes collaboration between businesses and university researchers.”
Professor Martin Boddy, Pro Vice-Chancellor for Research and Enterprise at UWE Bristol, said:
“This new report very clearly demonstrates the major impact of UWE Bristol on the prosperity of the West of England as a whole – not just as one of the region’s major employers but through buying goods and services from local businesses, attracting students from across the UK and globally, supporting innovation and business growth. Not least, the University provides the ready supply of graduates with the skills and aptitudes that businesses and other employers need in order to thrive and succeed.”