An independent report has today (2 July 2019) been published showing, for the first time, the economic impact of the University of Suffolk.
It comes as the University approaches its third anniversary and shows that in the academic year 2017/18; the University generated £103 million Gross Value Added (GVA) and supported 2,270 jobs across the UK. Of this £41 million GVA and 820 jobs were in Ipswich, £56 million GVA and 1,210 jobs were in Suffolk.
The full impact of the University extends beyond its quantifiable economic contributions. It has stimulated a wider educational, social, economic and cultural transformation, which has had a significant impact on the local economy and the local population. For example, it is noted in the report that the University is credited for being a catalyst for change in the regeneration of the Ipswich Waterfront; for supporting the delivery of key frontline public services in health and education and for establishing an educational institution that is embedded within the local business community and responsive to its needs.
One of the biggest impacts is the creation of the University itself. The report noted the multi-layered impact that has come as a result of creating a higher education facility where none had previously existed. Before the creation of the University of Suffolk in 2016, Suffolk was one of just four counties without a university and experienced lower than average progression rates into higher education.
As a community impact university, the University of Suffolk aims to have a direct impact on the communities it serves, and to facilitate wider access to higher education for students who would not normally consider higher education or for those from under-represented groups. Graeme Blackett, Director of BiGGAR Economics who compiled the report, highlights “BiGGAR Economics has undertaken economic impact assessments of more than 100 universities across Europe. One of the things that really struck us about the University of Suffolk is how it has attracted, retained and supported students from backgrounds that may not have traditionally considered going to university. This has had a transformational effect on many individual students and a significant economic impact on the region."
Professor Helen Langton, Vice-Chancellor of the University, said, “From its earliest days, the University set itself at the heart of its local communities and put economic growth at the centre of its strategy, delivered through high quality teaching, research and business engagement. It is very pleasing to receive such a positive assessment of our progress independently measured for the first time.”
John Dugmore, Chief Executive of Suffolk Chamber said “The BiGGAR Economics report provides the data that underscores what Suffolk Chamber and the wider business community have known for a while; that the University of Suffolk’s is showing sustained and ongoing growth that gives an economic boost to local prosperity.”
“Aside from the big, bold figures on GVA and job creation, we know that the approach of the University to engaging with businesses and providing spaces for them at facilities such as the Ipswich Waterfront Innovation Centre is fostering a culture of partnership and understanding that will stand all partners well for the future.”
Karen Chapman, Suffolk Growth Programme Board (PGPB) Partnership Manager said, “SGPB welcomes this economic impact assessment of the University of Suffolk and is encouraged to see the significant contribution the University has made to local and regional economic growth. Going forward SGPB is keen to expand our work with the University to build on this initial impact and ensure we collectively deliver the skills, training, research and business support programmes that are needed to benefit all in Suffolk.”
Amy Grant, Vice-President of the University of Suffolk’s Students’ Union, said, “I’m delighted to read this report, confirming that our students are contributing significantly to the local economy and will continue to do so long after they graduate. It is not just about the money; our students have massive positive impact on the local area. Many are training to be nurses, midwives and paramedics and will go on to work here in our Heath service. As third in the UK for widening participation, we are so proud to be offering the opportunity to attend University to non-traditional students, which has a huge impact, both on individual lives and the regional economy. As the University grows, we anticipate that our impact in Suffolk and beyond will be even more significant.”
The ratio of impact to income of 9:1 at the University of Suffolk is, according to BiGGAR Economics, higher than most education focused institutions who have undertaken economic impact studies in the UK. The impact is high because the University of Suffolk is a teaching focused university with a relatively high graduate premium, arising from the subject mix of graduates. This graduate premium is realised over the working lives of graduates, rather than in the year when the graduates leave the University and therefore is considered to be a long-term impact.
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