University facts

General facts around Higher Education

  • There are currently 165 publicly-funded higher education institutions in the UK

  • In 2009/10 there were just under 2.5million students at UK higher education institutions

  • The higher education sector contributes more than £31bn to the UK’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP)

  • Universities directly employ just under 390,000 people throughout the UK

  • Universities have been successful at raising income from a wide range of sources. Even during 2009-10, a time of recession, £0.5billion was raised in philanthropic gifts

  • Degree holders earned an average of £12,000 a year more than non-graduates over the past decade. After adjusting to allow for increases in earnings over the period, the data show that graduates aged 22 to 64 had median salaries of £29,900 compared with £17,800 for non-degree holders

  • The high reputation of the United Kingdom’s universities is confirmed in global rankings. Those published by Times Higher Education, QS and Shanghai Jiao Tong University (Academic Ranking of World Universities) place the UK as second only to the US for the number of leading universities

The impact of Higher Education on society

  • 63 per cent of students have taken part in formal volunteering since starting university, and 38 per cent of those are introduced to volunteering through their university or students’ union

  • Students who receive support for their volunteering from their university are more satisfied with the experience and derive greater personal development benefits

  • 51 per cent of recent graduates under 30 years old who are in paid work say that volunteering helped them to secure employment

  • Students at higher ranking universities (ranked by entry tariff points) reported the highest volunteering rates

  • Exhibitions held at universities, often free of charge, attract over seven million visitors a year

  • Over one million people attend free performances of music, dance and the dramatic arts in universities every year

  • In England, 95 per cent of higher education institutions have a facility usage arrangement with a local sports club, providing much needed facilities

  • Across England and Wales, university sports facilities are open to the public over 70 percent of the time, while in Scotland, over 90 per cent of higher education institutions offer pay-as-you go access to the public

  • 14,590 academic staff days were dedicated to free public lectures in 2009/10, with almost one million attendees

Estimating the contribution of Higher Education to business and the economy

  • Higher education institutions (HEIs) have an impact of over £59 billion on the UK economy annually, an increase of £14 billion since 2004. This includes £32.4 billion generated in other sectors (via knock on effects). The HE sector is larger than either the pharmaceutical or advertising industries and HEIS are also major employers, often the largest in their area

  • Universities are major employers – employing just under 390,000 people in both academic and support roles across the UK

  • For every 100 university jobs, a further 100 are created in the wider economy by a ‘knock-on’ process - for example, businesses that cater to the student population. This amounts to over 354,000 jobs in addition to those at UK HEIs

  • Universities often create enterprises to develop their research and inventions. In 2009/10, 203 new spin-off companies were created, and over 1,000 spin-off companies were active, employing over 9,600 people

  • 93 per cent of universities now have a dedicated single enquiry point and bespoke courses off-campus for small and medium size enterprises (SMEs) and offer specialist facilities such as science parks

  • Universities delivered 3.7million days of Continuing Professional Development courses in 2009/10

  • 43 per cent of UK graduates stay and work in the region of their university after graduation

  • The higher education sector spends some £19.5 billion on goods and services produced in the UK

  • Students spend £7.9 billion on living costs, most of which goes into the local economy

  • Universities are one of the nation’s biggest earners of foreign currency, bringing in more than £5.8 billion a year in tuition fees, transnational enterprises and other activities

  • The number of patents granted to universities has more than doubled in the last 10 years

  • A CBI survey found that 84 per cent of large firms who responded had links with universities, and a further 10 per cent planned to develop them