Exeter University injects £1.1 billion into economy, generating 11,000 South West jobs

The University of Exeter injects more than £1.17bn into the economy and generates almost 11,000 jobs in the South West, a major new study has revealed.

An analysis of the economic impact of Exeter University found that in 2015-16 it injected £540 million (output) into the economy of the city of Exeter alone, helping to create more than 5,300 jobs in the city. In total, 10,757 jobs were generated across the South West by the University.

The report the Economic Impact of the University of Exeter was commissioned by the University and carried out by Viewforth Consulting, which provides independent analysis in higher and further education.

The report concluded that “the University of Exeter is of major importance to both the local and the wider regional economy.”

In 2015/16, the University generated 5,346 jobs in Exeter, including jobs at the University and those dependent on the spending of students and staff. These included jobs in clothes and grocery shops, taxis ferrying students and visitors around the city and beyond, and hotels for visitors to the University and students’ families.

The analysis also shows that international students and their visitors contribute significantly to the local and regional economy, injecting more than £100 million into the region.

The report found that international students, who spend money on accommodation, food, clothing and entertainment, can “in many ways be regarded as ‘long stay tourists.”

The personal spending of the University’s 5,440 international students was estimated at £75.4 million, with £65.6million spent off campus.  This is considerably higher than the £52 million spending of all international visitors to Exeter in 2016.

Exeter is the fastest-growing city in the UK, according to a report by Centre for Cities.

The Viewforth report found that the University generated £540.1 million in Exeter directly, and through knock-on effects including the expenditure of family and friends visiting students. 

A total of 5,346 jobs in Exeter are dependent on the University’s activities, equivalent to 7.2 per cent of all employment in Exeter in 2015.  The University directly provided 3,490 jobs in Exeter and generated a further 1,136 jobs in the city, as a result of spending by the University, its staff and its students.

Exeter also has campuses in Cornwall, in both Penryn and Truro.  In total, 10,757 jobs were generated across the South West, with 5,346 in Exeter, and further 1,160 in the rest of Devon, 448 in other parts of the Heart of the South West (the Local Enterprise Partnership covering Devon, Plymouth, Torbay and parts of Somerset), 853 in Cornwall & the Isles of Scilly and 2,590 in the rest of the South West. 

Professor Mark Goodwin, Deputy Vice Chancellor for External Engagement said: “The University is a large employer and economic contributor in Devon and Cornwall, and helps to support local growth and build on the region’s strengths and potential. The University is not only a world leader in terms of its world-class teaching and research, but it also has a major impact on the local, regional and national economy. From creating and supporting thousands of jobs in and around Exeter to attracting high-quality students from around the world, the University is an integral part of the local economy and community.”

The University of Exeter, a member of the Russell Group of leading research-intensive universities, has four campuses and about 22,000 students from more than 130 different countries.

Breakthroughs to come out of Exeter's research recently include the identification and treatment of new forms of diabetes and the creation of the world's most transparent, lightweight and flexible conductor of electricity.

Professor Goodwin added: “This report looks at economics, but also acknowledges the broader impact of the University’s activities. The University engages with the communities it serves locally, across the UK, and the world. By working closely with our extensive group of partners, our world-leading research and education can tackle major global issues, generating real and lasting impact on the communities we serve.”

Steve Screech, general manager of Apple Central Taxis in Exeter, said the University has a “massive impact” on the business.

“We have a great relationship with the university, and the business we get from students and staff has really helped our business grow.
In term time, work from the university makes up about 30% of our business. Outside term time it’s more like 10%, which is still an important impact. Our busiest time of the year is graduation, when we might have 24,000 jobs in a week – compared to more like 19,000 or 20,000 on average.”

Hannah Overton, marketing manager at Princesshay shopping centre in Exeter, said: “Students make up a significant segment of our shoppers – about 7 to 11%, depending on whether it’s term time or not. They are a real focus for us because they tend to live close and visit quite often, so we make sure we have brands that appeal to them. We also run an event called Strictly Students every October, with late opening and discounts, and 3,500 to 4,000 students attend.”