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Welsh universities generate £5bn and support one in 20 jobs in Wales, new report says

05 Oct 2021 3 minute read
Bangor University

Welsh universities bring significant economic benefits to the whole of Wales, generating over £5 billion for the economy and one in 20 jobs across the country, according to a new independent report by Viewforth Consulting published today.

As well as through direct activities, universities also support the economy through their purchases of services and goods from other sectors and through staff and student spending power, the report said.

Universities in Wales also attract substantial numbers of international students, generating £661 million for the Welsh economy – almost 12% of all Welsh service sector export earnings.

Professor Elizabeth Treasure, Chair of Universities Wales, said: “This report clearly illustrates what universities mean for Wales’ economy. From providing access to education and skills to working with businesses on cutting edge research and innovation, the work that our universities do is closely intertwined with the people and places of Wales.

“What is most notable about the findings of this report is not just the immediate economic impact of the activities our universities carry out, but how our institutions bring benefits right across local communities and, indeed, across Wales.

“As we rebuild and recover from the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, Welsh universities will continue working with partners across Wales, and embrace the challenges of a changing world. We remain firm in our ambition to grow and sustain a successful, enterprising higher education sector that draws in international expertise and excellence while delivering for the whole of Wales.”


Looking at the academic year 2019/20, the new research, commissioned by Universities Wales, found that Welsh universities generated:

  • £5.3bn of output
  • 61,722 jobs
  • one job for every two international students enrolled at university
  • 11.8% (£661 million) of all Welsh service sector export earnings
  •  £2.8bn of Welsh GDP – equivalent to 4.2% of 2019 Welsh GDP.

The report found that these benefits were not confined to those areas of the country with a university presence. The positive impacts of higher education were felt in communities throughout Wales – with 22% of the jobs and 20% of the GDP generated in local authority areas without a university, it said.

This significant economic impact ran alongside the contribution universities make to society through research and educating the workforce, including public sector workers. Recent analysis predicted that 10,000 nurses, 4,000 medical specialists and 8,000 teachers will train at Welsh universities over the next five years.

Economy Minister, Vaughan Gething MS said: “I very much welcome this important report, which makes clear the strengths of Wales’ higher education institutions and their vital contribution to Welsh society and to our economy.

“In Wales, we value our universities as drivers of research and innovation, creating and distributing new knowledge which can transform how we live and work. They are a vital part of the skills pipeline, educating and training our people for the jobs of the future, and offering opportunities for lifelong skills development.

“Crucially, our universities are anchor institutions within our local communities, providing or contributing to the employment of 1 in 20 people in Wales, and playing a key role in local economies. I’m particularly pleased Wales outperforms the other UK nations on the proportion of graduate start-ups per capita – with an impressive variety of businesses emerging from Welsh universities. These businesses help us retain our talent, which is vital for Wales’ future economic prosperity.

“Through their teaching, research and innovation and civic engagement activities, universities have a crucial role to play in supporting our recovery plans and Programme for Government priorities. I look forward to working with them, as we work together to build a more prosperous, equal and greener Wales.”

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Gareth P.
Gareth P.
2 years ago

Take a trip through Bangor and experience first hand the economic benefits of the University sector, over proliferation of low value fast food, venue, cheap sweat shop labour clothes shops ,the high street no longer serves locals but has become a playground for the ‘student experience ‘ and the only growth shown is mobile phone cover shops and barbers( student hair must grow at a prolific rate judging by the number of barbers plying their clippers in Bangor), the over proliferation within the city of student accommodation which has displaced Welsh speaking communitites, the University itself may be a vibrant… Read more »

Sumner Tesker DPhil
Sumner Tesker DPhil
2 years ago
Reply to  Gareth P.

Kick out the English. The Welsh don’t subscribe to this sinful rape

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