The £4.2 billion impact of the Solent region universities

The Solent region’s three universities are together injecting more than £4.2 billion into the UK economy every year, supporting 52,300 jobs – including £2.1 billion of economic value and 33,000 jobs in the Solent region[1].

The universities are vital contributors to the Solent region.

That is the key finding of a major study by the Solent Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) on the combined economic impact[2] of the University of Portsmouth, University of Southampton and Southampton Solent University.

The study also found 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 study also found that:

  • 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, e.g.,
  • 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 like schools, delivering meals and helping at the British Heart Foundation.

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.”

Professor Graham Galbraith, Vice Chancellor of the University of Portsmouth said:  “Universities must demonstrate why we matter to our regions – and this is precisely what this study does. Not only are we engaged in world-leading research and in producing over 12,000 highly-skilled graduates each year – nearly 1 in 2 of which are STEM graduates – we also inject vital economic benefits to our region.

“The universities are vital contributors to the Solent and I am delighted that we play such a positive role.”

Donna Jones, Leader of Portsmouth City Council, added:  “The three Solent universities are vital to the region’s economy. They employ nearly 10,000 people and have a combined turnover of £0.9billion pa. Our universities engage in world-leading research and attract students from all over the globe. Their success is central to the success of an outward-looking Solent economy post-Brexit.

“As the fourth largest employer in Portsmouth, the University’s success is intimately connected to the City’s – and vice versa.”

The report, carried out by the independent economic consultancy BiGGAR Economics, highlights world-leading university research going on in engineering, biomedicine, aerospace, defence, marine, maritime and advanced manufacturing.

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.

Examples of the universities’ ‘knowledge assets’ include the University of Portsmouth’s Future Technology Centre, the clustering of tech firms around the University of Southampton’s Chilworth Science Park and Southampton Solent University’s Warsash Maritime Academy.

Read the full report here.

[1] The study defined ‘Solent Region’ is defined as the Solent LEP Area.

[2] Economic impact is defined as ‘Gross Value Added’ (GVA). This is a measure of the value that an organisation, company or industry adds to the economy through its operations; it takes into account factors such as staff and student spending, income for supply chain companies, business services and the commercialisation of university research.

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