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The University of Southampton

Southampton contributes to £4.2 billion UK impact of regional universities

Published: 9 March 2018
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Southampton has contributed to a £4.2 billion impact on the UK by universities in the Solent region.

Three universities in the South of England – including the University of Southampton - are together injecting more than £4.2 billion into the UK economy every year whilst supporting 52,300 jobs.

Those are the key findings of a major study by the Solent Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) on the combined impact of the University of Southampton, University of Portsmouth and Southampton Solent University. Within the Solent region - encompassing the cities of Southampton and Portsmouth, the Isle of Wight and the Solent waterway – the three universities contribute £2.1 billion of economic value and support 33,000 jobs.

The study, carried out by the independent economic consultancy BiGGAR Economics, drew from information gathered during the 2015-16 financial year and highlights world-leading university research in engineering, biomedicine, aerospace, defence, marine, maritime and advanced manufacturing.

The three Universities accounted for around 8% of regional gross value added and supported 5% of jobs. This suggests that the Solent Area institutions are more economically significant to the regional economy than the wider higher education sector is to the UK economy as a whole.

The study also reveals that:

  • Every £1 the universities generate from their own work sustains £6 worth of UK economic activity, with £3 of that retained in the Solent LEP area;
  • The three universities support 1 in 20 jobs in the Solent region. This is higher than the national average of 1 in 36 jobs;
  • Between 2011/12 and 2020/21 the universities are expected to spend about £1.7 billion on capital investment;
  • In 2015/16 over 12,000 students graduated from the three universities – with nearly 1 in 2 graduating with a STEM degree. In addition, over 5,000 students graduated with a post-graduate qualification;
  • Students also contribute to wider society in other ways. In 2015/16 they volunteered a total of over 43,800 hours (equivalent to five years) to good causes;
  • Investment by each university to assist small and medium- sized business has helped to put the region well above the national average for creating high-growth firms.

“The economic, social and cultural impact of the Solent Area universities should not be underestimated,” said Professor Sir Christopher Snowden, President and Vice-Chancellor at the University of Southampton. “This report from the Solent LEP is evidence of the major contribution our institutions make not just amongst our students and staff but across our wider communities and region where we play a vital role in stimulating economic stability and growth.” 

Gary Jeffries, Chairman of the Solent LEP, said: “The Solent has many strategic assets that help make our region an economic gateway to the UK and the world. Our universities are a key part of this critical infrastructure and this report underlines the enormous contribution that they make not only to the Solent, but to the UK economy as a whole.

“The Solent LEP focuses a significant proportion of its strategic investment on key sectors such as the marine and maritime. The role that our universities play in helping the Solent region maintain its pre-eminent position in this area is integral and that is why the Solent LEP will continue to work in close partnership with them so that we can deliver the maximum economic return for the region.”

You can read the full Solent LEP report here. The University of Southampton will soon publish its own institutional report in terms of the institution’s economic impact on the wider region – Solent and the M3 corridor to London – the UK and in global terms.  


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