Social impact of universities worth over £1.31 billion, says new report
Published Wednesday 22nd June 2011
UK universities add at least £1.31 billion a year in value to UK society in the form of health and well being, citizenship and political engagement.
This is according to new research by leading independent think-tank nef (the new economics foundation), published in association with Universities UK.
Degrees of Value: How universities benefit society attempts for the first time to put a monetary value on some of the ways that universities contribute to society at a local and a national level, using Social Return on Investment (SROI) methodology. These values are above and beyond the economic contribution that universities make.
The research looked at just some of the social contributions of universities in Britain:
- A healthier, more co-operative and more democratic nation: research has shown that universities improve political engagement, foster interpersonal trust and improve health, benefitting the whole population, not just those who went to university. The report estimates the value of these outcomes alone is £1.31 billion.
- Volunteering: The University of Northampton delivered over £800,000 worth of volunteering to social enterprises and charities in 2010.
The report recommends that the government starts to take account of these and other social contributions made by higher education and values them accordingly. It also recommends that universities across the country start to become more vocal about their community and outreach work, and continue the work they are doing in improving access for students from poorer backgrounds.
Professor Nick Petford, Vice Chancellor, The University of Northampton, commented:
"As well as economic impact - of which The University of Northampton generates a total impact of £341m on the UK, including £224m within Northamptonshire itself* - the social impacts of what we do are vast; outreach work to educate and encourage learning, volunteering to help our local communities, events and cultural activities to enrich people's lives, the dissemination and 'putting into practice' of academic research to benefit society, etc...
"We recently launched our social enterprise strategy, which not only offers students the chance to work in social enterprises within the University or in our local community, but also encompasses a long-term strategic project - 'inSpirE Northamptonshire' - with Northamptonshire County Council, businesses, the third sector, and individual citizens in Northamptonshire.
"inSpirE supports the county's new and existing social enterprises and community and voluntary organisations by providing them with training, development and expert support so they can become more professional and take advantage of the opportunities that are emerging as a result of the decentralisation agenda to deliver public services."
The report formed part of the second annual Universities Week, which aimed to increase public awareness of the wide and varied role of the UK's universities. Universities Week addressed the many different ways in which universities affect all of our lives - from supporting the economy, to working within local communities, to looking at how their research programmes could change our futures.*from an independent analysis of published data by Viewforth Consulting Ltd.