St Andrews economic impact revealed

Monday 11 October 2010

The University of St Andrews contributes over £300 million per year to the Scottish economy and supports over 9000 full-time jobs, according to an independent economic impact assessment.

Scotland’s oldest university – which has 7400 students and 2100 staff – supports more than four times as many jobs as it has staff on its payroll, according to the report produced by Midlothian-based BiGGAR Economics.

The report – Economic impact of the University of St Andrews (PDF, 489 KB) – found that for every £1 of public money invested in St Andrews, the University returns over £7.50 to the Scottish economy.

University bosses say the study shows that universities are net generators of wealth, rather than consumers of public funds. They have warned that if investment is withdrawn from the HE sector, the knock-on effect for the economy at large will be considerable.

The report authors looked at the impacts of core university spending, student spending, commercialisation and spin-out activity, tourism, capital projects and community projects in financial year 2008-09.

Published on the eve of a new academic year in St Andrews, the report reveals:

The University of St Andrews generates £305.3 million annually and supports 9,197 full-time Scottish jobs.

St Andrews students contribute £63.3 million and support 2,759 full-time jobs through direct spending, part-time work and international students staying on to work.

The University generates £181.2 million annually for the St Andrews local economy, directly supports 4,633 jobs in St Andrews and is responsible for 59% of all employment in the town.

The University receives approximately £40 million a year in public funding from the Scottish Funding Council – but returns £305 million to the Scottish economy.

The University outperforms the Scottish average in generating new spin-out companies and filing patents. St Andrews commercialisation activities make £18.7 million for the Scottish economy and support 328 full-time jobs.

Welcoming the findings, St Andrews Quaestor and Factor Derek Watson said:

“For every pound of public money we receive from the SFC, we return £7.50 to the Scottish economy.

At a time of increasing economic uncertainty and pressure on the public purse, we believe it is important to be able to clearly demonstrate that our universities are not just generators of vital knowledge, but wealth generators in the widest sense.

“Whatever HE funding solution is found for Scotland, this evidence shows that the country should continue to invest in its higher education sector if it hopes for stability and the prospect of new growth in the wider economy. Any notion of disinvestment in Scottish HE makes no credible economic sense.

“Put it another way – limiting funding to the sector at this time will cut jobs and much needed investment far beyond the doors of our universities. For every pound we lose, the Scottish economy will lose seven times as much.

“This is the first time we have attempted to quantify the monetary contribution which St Andrews University, our staff and students make to the local and national economy.

“In the current debate about the future funding of HE in Scotland the impression is given that our universities are net consumers of public funds. This report shows that the opposite is true. Scotland’s universities are a major driver for economic success and a key plank of economic stability.

“In St Andrews we directly support four times as many jobs as people we employ, our students alone support almost 3000 jobs and our commercialisation activities are generating new wealth and new economic possibilities throughout the country.”

The St Andrews study also looked at the ‘graduate premium’ – the longer term effects of the University’s graduates on productivity in the economy.

The lifetime graduate premium of a single year’s cohort of graduates of the University is £5 million in the St Andrews economy and £22.7 million in the Scottish economy.

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