Edinburgh University generates £7.5bn a year

By Mark McSherry

An independent financial study into the University of Edinburgh’s economic and social impact has found that the institution generates £7.52 billion per year to the UK economy.

The report found that every pound spent by the university produced £6.90 in economic benefit across the UK, a 34% increase in impact since 2015-16.

The study by policy and economics consultancy London Economics also found that the university – Scotland’s largest – supports more than 32,760 jobs across the UK.

The report said the university’s international students represent 160 countries and contribute £1.8 billion in economic benefit to the UK.

Further, the university’s start-up and spin-out companies are estimated by the report to be worth a total of £162 million to the British economy, supporting 1,830 jobs.

The study also draws attention to the economic impact generated by the university’s core operations — including direct employment, expenditure on supplies and capital investment.

The report reviewed the university’s impact from a diverse range of activity including research, entrepreneurship, teaching and educational exports in the 2021-22 academic year.

The analysis also underlined the contribution made to the local economy through students’ spending, part-time work and voluntary activity.

Income generated by visits to Edinburgh from students’ friends and relatives is also included in the figures. So too is the additional contribution that graduates make to the UK economy as a result of qualifications awarded by the university.

Peter Mathieson, Principal and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Edinburgh, said: “As a world-leading centre of academic excellence, we aim to make a significant, sustainable and socially responsible contribution to Scotland, the UK and the world.

“This study strongly indicates the hugely important economic role that the University of Edinburgh plays within Scotland and beyond.

“We have more than 400 years of excellence behind us, but we’re not done yet. Working together, we can make the next 400 years even better.”

First Minister of Scotland, Humza Yousaf said: “The University of Edinburgh and the wider higher education sector are key partners in economic transformation and innovation, with the National Strategy for Economic Transformation (NSET) aiming to deliver a more prosperous, more productive and more internationally competitive economy.

“We recognise that universities are uniquely placed to deliver across all of the programmes of action within the NSET – utilising their teaching, skills development, with a focus on access and inclusion, research, innovation and international reach.

“Our Higher Education sector is a major success story for Scotland – and the University of Edinburgh’s delivery of world class research and innovation is a key part of this success.”

Andrew Pritchard, lead author from London Economics said: “In 2021-22, the University of Edinburgh’s total economic impact on the UK economy was estimated to be approximately £7.5 billion, with much of this impact felt locally in the Edinburgh City Deal region and Scotland as a whole.

“Building on its core activities of delivering world-class research and teaching, the University is a key driver of economic growth throughout Scotland, supporting thousands of jobs and businesses, and presenting a vast array of opportunities to the people of Scotland.

“Given its international reputation, the university also has a near unparalleled ability to attract international students from around the world.

“These students generate an economic impact of £1.8 billion, add to the social and cultural of the Edinburgh region and maintain Edinburgh’s position as Scotland’s global city.”