Universities make a major economic contribution but they could do much more

Yorkshire is the proud home of some of the leading universities in the world with students wanting to come in from all over the world to take up a place at one of these prestigious seats of learning.

And as the new report from London Economics shows, the economic value of universities in this region must not be underestimated.

Assessing the economic impact of Russell Group universities, which includes the University of Leeds, the University of Sheffield and the University of York, the report found the impact of their research and commercialisation activities equated to almost £2.2bn in Yorkshire in 2021/2022.

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In the same period, they supported over 22,000 jobs across the region through their research and innovation activities.

University of Leeds' Parkinson Building. PIC: Jonathan GawthorpeUniversity of Leeds' Parkinson Building. PIC: Jonathan Gawthorpe
University of Leeds' Parkinson Building. PIC: Jonathan Gawthorpe

Of course, it is not just Russell Group universities that make Yorkshire a higher education stronghold.

Yet the general feeling is that universities can contribute so much more. But a lot of them feel hamstrung by a lack of opportunities for the talent that they help develop here in Yorkshire.

That is why the development of economic clusters that tap into the skills and expertise of universities, helping bring in private investment and creating jobs is needed.

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The region still suffers from a brain drain. It is self-defeating to be training future generations, only for them to take that know-how elsewhere.

All universities across the region could also do more to visibly engage with the communities on their doorstep. There is still sometimes a feeling of detachment. Local children need to know that the university pathway is open to them.

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