Manifesto for regional growth calls on Ministers to place universities centre-stage

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In a new report, Smarter Regions Smarter Britain, the university think-tank million+ has set out a manifesto to tackle the sharp variations in regional growth in the UK. Using new economic modelling the report identifies the economic benefits arising from graduates who study and then work in the regions and points out that this supply of well-qualified people brings positive spill-over effects for local economies and employers.

The million+ manifesto urges the government to:

• use receipts from the sale of the student loan book to set regional targets to boost the number of people with high level qualifications and create 50,000 additional postgraduate places linked to part-time courses with a professional, industry or public service focus,

• set up a new stream of funding for translational research geared towards universities which receive lower levels of  public research investment,

• adopt the system common in the Nordic countries and ensure that all universities with research degree awarding powers receive funding for research infrastructure,

• establish a Small Business Agency with a clear regional focus, modelled on the Agency created by the Obama administration,

• introduce new innovation voucher and knowledge transfer schemes to allow universities to be more responsive to the needs of local employers,

• require the new Business Bank to adopt a regional remit, and

• review the role of the 39 Local Enterprise Partnerships created since 2010.

Professor Michael Gunn, Vice-chancellor of Staffordshire University and chair of university think-tank million+ said:

“Local initiatives and a focus on core cities outside of London will not in themselves tackle the sharp differences in regional growth in the UK.”

“In the run-up to the election, political parties need to be much more ambitious. Universities have long been recognised as key economic, social and cultural powerhouses in their localities and they should be centre-stage in a new strategy for the regions.”

“This report uses new economic modelling which confirms that graduates add real value to the regions in which they study. It is clear that investment in higher education delivers big regional pay-offs for employers and the Treasury as well as individuals.”

“Our manifesto for the regions will unlock talent, support business and ensure that the benefits of the economic recovery are more equally shared to create a smarter Britain.”

Pam Tatlow, chief executive of university think-tank million+ said:

“The government should invest money raised from the sale of the student loan book in the students of the future by boosting work-based university courses, flexible routes to study and the number of postgraduate places. New innovation voucher and knowledge transfer schemes would help drive demand for highly qualified jobs and paid student and graduate placements.”

“The government must also be much smarter about the role of near market research in driving regional growth and establish a new stream of funding for translational research to support innovation and university-business collaboration.”

“Politicians should take a lesson from the Nordic countries which guarantee funding for research infrastructure to all universities with research degree awarding powers.”

“A much clearer appreciation of the contribution and potential of all universities to provide expertise and talent is needed at the heart of government to boost the recovery in the regions.”

Rachel Wenstone, NUS vice president (higher education) said:

“Universities and colleges have always been key drivers in their communities and they should be central in helping to tackle regional unemployment and underemployment, and to help boost social growth and capital. Our institutions also hold great public value, allowing people to enter education at various points in their lives, creating local jobs and providing regions with new talent and the next generation of workers.”

 

“A collaborative response is crucial to ensure that regional recovery is generated in the most effective way, including working together with local government, employers, and Local Enterprise Partnerships.”

ENDS

Notes to Editors

1. For further information and to arrange interviews, contact Victoria Robinson, Press and Communications Officer, million+ on 020 7717 1658 / 07527 336 795 or email press@millionplus.ac.uk.

2. million+ is a leading university think-tank. More information can be found at www.millionplus.ac.uk.

3. The economic estimates have been produced for million+ by London Economics analysis of the Labour Force Survey and the Destination of Leavers from Higher Education. The estimates generated represent the discounted value of the future stream of private or Exchequer benefits associated with a single cohort of higher education graduates in possession of an undergraduate degree.

4. The full research report Smarter Region Smarter Britian: Boosting regional growth through universities can be found here

5. For examples of how university-business collaboration can be successful, read our case study blogs here

6. Estimates of economic benefit by region:

  • In the North East, nearly 80% of graduates working there had studied in the region (based on figures from the Destination of Leavers from Higher Education). We estimate that the economic impact of universities in the region from graduates who studied there is over £1.7bn per year, with 80% of that (£1.37bn) being generated within the North East.

  • In the North West, nearly 76% of graduates working there had studied in the region (based on figures from the Destination of Leavers from Higher Education). We estimate that the economic impact of universities in the region from graduates who studied there is over £4.4bn per year, with 76% of that (£3.32bn) being generated within the North West.

  • In Yorkshire and the Humber, nearly 63% of graduates working there had studied in the region (based on figures from the Destination of Leavers from Higher Education). We estimate that the economic impact of universities in the region from graduates who studied there is over £3.1bn per year, with 68% of that (£2.15bn) being generated within Yorkshire and the Humber.

  • In the East Midlands, just under 60% of graduates working there had studied in the region (based on figures from the Destination of Leavers from Higher Education). We estimate that the economic impact of universities in the region from graduates who studied there is over £2.4bn per year, with 60% of that (£1.48bn) being generated within the East Midlands.

  • In the West Midlands, just over 62% of graduates working there had studied in the region (based on figures from the Destination of Leavers from Higher Education). We estimate that the economic impact of universities in the region from graduates who studied there is over £2.7bn per year, with 60% of that (£1.65bn) being generated within the West Midlands.

  • In the East of England, nearly 45% of graduates working there had studied in the region (based on figures from the Destination of Leavers from Higher Education). We estimate that the economic impact of universities in the region from graduates who studied there is over £2.7bn per year, with 41% of that (£1.11bn) being generated within the East of England.

  • In London, just over 48% of graduates working there had studied in the region (based on figures from the Destination of Leavers from Higher Education). We estimate that the economic impact of universities in the region from graduates who studied there is over £11.8bn per year, with 43% of that (£5.02bn) being generated within London.

  • In the South East, just over 47% of graduates working there had studied in the region (based on figures from the Destination of Leavers from Higher Education). We estimate that the economic impact of universities in the region from graduates who studied there is over £4.7bn per year, with 49% of that (£2.31bn) being generated within the South East.

  • In the South West, nearly 59% of graduates working there had studied in the region (based on figures from the Destination of Leavers from Higher Education). We estimate that the economic impact of universities in the region from graduates who studied there is over £2.2bn per year, with 64% of that (£1.41bn) being generated within the South West.

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