Cambridge University’s economic contribution ‘four times that of Premier League’

The University of Cambridge makes a financial contribution to the UK almost four times that of the Premier League, a new report has suggested.

Analysis of economic impact found the university adds nearly £30 billion to the UK economy every year through a combination of research, entrepreneurial activities, tourism and enhanced value that graduates bring to employment.

The report was commissioned by Cambridge University.

It was carried out by London Economics, which describes itself as “one of Europe’s leading specialist policy and economics consultancies”.

London Economics says on its website that it advises clients in “both the public and private sectors on economic and financial analysis, policy development and evaluation, business strategy, and regulatory and competition policy”.

Data from the 2020-2021 academic year was used to calculate the net economic impact on the UK economy as £29.8 billion and concludes that the university supports more than 86,000 jobs across the country.

The report, carried out by London Economics, states: “For every £1 we spend, we create £11.70 of economic impact, and for every £1 million of publicly funded research income we receive, we generate £12.65 million in economic impact across the UK.

“The university’s contribution to the UK economy is almost four times that of the Premier League.”

The total sum was a combination of the impact of research and knowledge exchange; teaching and learning; educational exports, including international tuition; university and college spending; and tourism.

Nearly 80% of the £29.8 billion was made up of research and knowledge exchange activities, which included the 178 spin-out and 213 start-up companies that have emerged from the Cambridge cluster.

Examples of research impact included saving at least £120 million of public money in the South West through improving surveillance of bovine tuberculosis, and innovation in drug discovery techniques which created approximately 140 jobs in Cambridge for biopharmaceutical company Astex.

Acting vice-chancellor Dr Anthony Freeling said: “This report demonstrates how international excellence, coupled with a deliberate strategy of investing in innovation, creates jobs and significant growth for the UK economy.”

He added that developing “one of the world’s leading innovation clusters” from the university was the result of a very deliberate strategy of innovation and commercialisation.

Also cited in the report is the value of tourism associated with the University of Cambridge. The impact of tourism, calculated with pre-Covid visiting data and average spend, was estimated to be £587 million.

Analysis of tourism impact used the approximation of 462,000 overseas visitors to Cambridge in 2019, of which 260,000 were assumed to be associated with the university.

Much of the economic impact of tourism was attributed to the rich culture and heritage of the university and its associated sites, for example, the eight University of Cambridge museums and the Botanic Gardens.

These sites contain more than five million works of art, artefacts, and specimens, and reportedly brought more than one million visitors a year to the university, pre-Covid.