Vice-Chancellor’s message: economic impact

Sussex Vice-Chancellor, Professor Sasha Roseneil, reflects on the University’s impact and contributions to economic growth.

How Sussex boosts the regional, national and international economy

Universities in the UK are recognised as being among the best in the world, with 30 – including the University of Sussex – listed among the world’s top 250 according to the latest QS World University rankings 2023.

In the same rankings by subject, Sussex leads the global higher education sector in Development Studies for the seventh consecutive year, with a further 11 subjects in the global top 200.

These results show that we are providing an internationally excellent, research-led education for our 20,000 students from across the globe.

But universities do more than educate and culturally enrich society. They also bring huge economic benefits to their local areas and the wider region through creating and supporting jobs, and encouraging entrepreneurship, investment and innovation. Collectively they contribute to their nation’s wealth.

At Sussex, we have long been aware of the financial benefits the University brings to the region.

In common with many other universities, we regularly commission analysts to assess the economic and social impact of the University of Sussex. The reports, by independent analysts Oxford Economics, have shown a steady increase in the ways we boost the local and national economy.

The latest report, which used data from 2020-21, shows that Sussex contributed a £495 million gross value added (GVA) to the UK economy. We directly employed 2,800 staff and indirectly supported a further 7,800 jobs across the UK, with 7,250 jobs across the local region.

Last year we celebrated our excellent Research Excellence Framework (REF 2021) results, which found that 89% of our research submitted was categorised as ‘world-leading’ or ‘internationally excellent’. By 2030, investment in Sussex’s research activity is estimated to boost the national economy by £31.3 million.

Entrepreneurialism among our researchers and our students is also attracting external investment, creating jobs and bringing real-world benefits in technological innovations and healthcare. In the past three years we have supported five new spin-outs and 37 new graduate start-ups, placing Sussex in the top 10% of university spin-outs for attracting external investment and for turnover in the 2021 Knowledge Exchange Framework results.

We also support existing local businesses and organisations through partnerships for internships, scholarships, research projects and sponsorships.

Our students continue to contribute to the region even after graduating, with more than a quarter finding local employment and contributing their skills and knowledge to local services. Forty per cent of these work in professions making a social impact, including as teachers, social workers and doctors.

Indeed, the social impact that universities have on society is immense. They are creative environments, where new ways of thinking and doing are encouraged in the spirit of learning and progress. They carry out rigorous research, furthering our understanding of the world, contributing to knowledge and critically reviewing received wisdom.

Sussex, like many universities, has a global outlook. We attract students and staff from more than 120 countries, creating a vibrant and diverse environment for sharing cultural perspectives. Our global alumni of more than 200,000 have taken the knowledge, skills and values they developed at Sussex into their own communities, wherever they may be in the world, and are bringing about positive change. This is the inestimable social impact value of our university.

You might also be interested in: