UK universities ‘facing growing global challenge’

The university sector is under threat according to a report by Oxford Economics. The report suggests immigration policy and tuition fees could potentially damage the lucrative sector.

Oxford university study of university sector
A range of factors – from the threat of immigration curbs to growing global competition – is threatening the contribution of almost £100 billion the university sector contributes to the UK economy annually, according to a new report.

Immigration and tuition policy potential for affect on universities

The report, compiled for Universities UK by Oxford Economics, the nation’s universities generate a knock-on impact of £95 billion for the UK economy once foreign students and visitors are taken into account. The sector also employs 940,000 people, equivalent to about three per cent of total UK employment.But university leaders warned on Monday that this contribution to the economy and jobs should not be “taken for granted” with the UK facing increased competition from universities around the world, uncertainty over Brexit negotiations, government policy on immigration, and a continuing debate on tuition fees in England.Prof Janet Beer, president of Universities UK and vice-chancellor of the University of Liverpool, said, “This study highlights the huge and increasingly significant impact that universities have on the UK economy and jobs. This puts the UK’s university sector above many other established sectors in terms of economic impact and regional job creation.“Universities are often the largest employers in their area and, through links with businesses and in attracting students from overseas, they bring in significant investment from around the world to all the UK’s nations and regions. The knock-on impact of universities on local businesses and jobs has supported the regeneration of many deprived towns and cities. “While the influence on jobs and the economy is important, universities are fundamentally about transforming students’ lives through education and skills and the production of life-changing research. They also enrich communities by giving local people the chance to take part in arts, music, and sports activities on campuses.“There are few sectors in the UK that can be described as truly world-leading, so it is important that the success of higher education is not taken for granted. Universities face many challenges, including increased global competition, uncertainty over student funding and the potential impact of Brexit. This report is a timely reminder to policymakers of the increasing economic, social and cultural impact of universities on their local communities.”
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University becoming a significant sector for the UK

The report found that in terms of annual turnover, universities now generate more than the UK’s legal sector, the advertising and marketing sector, and aircraft manufacturing. The £95 billion gross output figure for 2014-15 was 15 per cent higher than three years earlier.International students, including on- and off-campus spending and that of their visitors, generated a total of £25.8 billion in gross output, and supported 250,000 jobs. “Put another way, every international student generated £22k-35k Gross Value Added and £5k-£9k in tax revenue,” said Universities UK.Reacting to the report, Universities Minister Jo Johnson said, “England’s universities have a vital role to play in generating the knowledge and skills needed to fuel our economy. They are a great national asset, but there can be no room for complacency.“Our universities need to find a new gear in their engagement with business, so that we maximise the value of record levels of public investment in research and development, and embrace the greater accountability our reforms are putting in place for the quality of teaching and student outcomes.”For related news and features, visit our Education section.Relocate’s new Global Mobility Toolkit provides free information, practical advice and support for HR, global mobility managers and global teams operating overseas.Global Mobility Toolkit download factsheets resource centreAccess hundreds of global services and suppliers in our Online DirectoryClick to get to the Relocate Global Online Directory  

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