University of Birmingham generates £4.4bn

The University of Birmingham generates an estimated £4.4bn for the West Midlands and UK economies and supports nearly 20,000 jobs, according to a report released today.

The report from policy and economics consultancy London Economics assessed the university’s impact from a range of activities in the 2021-22 academic year.

It found that the research-intensive university’s total economic impact is estimated at £4.4bn – a figure exceeding that of the West Midlands’s car manufacturing industry (£3.562bn).

The report comes ahead of a potentially seismic general election which, London Economics has warned, puts higher education funding at a “crossroads” across the four home nations.

Professor Adam Tickell, vice-chancellor at the University of Birmingham, said: “London Economics highlight the significant social and economic contributions the University of Birmingham makes to Birmingham, the Midlands and the UK. Through education and skills, research and development, and our work with students, staff, local communities and partners, we make a positive and lasting impact on individuals and society.”

Gavan Conlon, partner at London Economics and co-head of its education and labour markets practice, added: “It’s no secret that the higher education sector faces many challenges and studies like this show why universities are so important. Failure to protect the sector could have wide-ranging negative impacts on the UK’s economy, skills base, innovation and jobs.”

The independent study breaks down the contribution made by the University of Birmingham in a variety of areas. The largest overall areas of impact are the world top 100 university’s research and knowledge exchange activities, which account for approximately £1.4bn (32%) of this impact and teaching and learning activities, where the economic impact is estimated to be £1.3bn (31%).

The report also underlines the contribution made by the University’s international students, with approximately every seven international students generating £1 million of impact to the UK economy, and every eight international students generating 10 full-time equivalent (FTE) jobs in the UK economy. The total impact associated with educational exports (international students) is £690 million, demonstrating their contribution to local and national economies through tuition fee income and local spending.

In terms of education, skills and employment, the report reveals that the University supports nearly 20,000 FTE jobs in the UK. More than 13,000 of those are in the West Midlands, with 1 in 50 jobs in Birmingham being directly provided by the University. The University also supported its students and graduates to start more than 60 new businesses during the report’s timeframe.

In 2021-22, the university trained more than 5,300 teachers, social workers, nurses, doctors and dentists. It also ranked first out of GB Russell Group institutions for UK domiciled graduates in sustained employment and/or further study five years after graduation.

In addition to job creation and training for the healthcare and education sectors, the report highlights the University of Birmingham’s role in encouraging visitors to the UK. In 2021-22, approximately 26,000 overseas overnight trips to Birmingham were associated with the University and it attracted approximately 870,000 attendees to public events.

The report’s authors also draw attention to ways in which the university’s presence contributes to the wider community. A survey of the institution’s staff found they volunteer at least 39,000 hours each year for local causes. A survey of University of Birmingham alumni found the majority believe that their degree helped them to get a better job and improved their wellbeing through increasing confidence, self-esteem and quality of life.