Sussex and Brighton Universities’ £1bn boost to the UK economy

Sussex and Brighton universities inject more than £1b into the UK economy and most is spent in Brighton and Hove and the South East, a new report released today shows.

The study, the first ever to look at the economic impact of individual universities, showed the two institutions spent £1.072bn and the bulk, 967m, was spent in the city and the South East. It also supported 12,000 jobs, the majority of them in the city.

The research, carried out by independent analysts, was commissioned by the University of Brighton and the University of Sussex and detailed for the first time how the universities have grown. The report showed they now constituted one of the largest industries in the region and confirmed the importance of higher education and university presence to the local economy.

Researchers studied the academic year ending 2009 when the two institutions had a combined student population of more than 32,700 and a total staff of 4,231. The numbers have subsequently grown, along with the universities' facilities.

Both have ongoing major building programmes, creating employment and boosting spending in and outside the universities: Sussex is in the middle of a £100m campus development programme which includes new research, teaching, and residential buildings, while at Brighton there is a major revamp of its accommodation facilities, a new sports hall and two new £20m-plus education and science buildings.

The universities also jointly run one of the most successful medical schools in the UK, the Brighton and Sussex Medical School, which attracts students from all over the world.

The study said universities clearly were important for the educational opportunities they provide but were also vitally important to their regions, as large businesses.

Professor Michael Farthing, Vice-Chancellor at Sussex, welcomed the report. He said: "Research expenditure at both universities has grown over the past few years, leading to the employment of enormously skilled and talented individuals and the promise of substantial future economic impact as much of the research will be commercialised."

Professor Julian Crampton, Vice-Chancellor at Brighton, said: "In these economically challenging times it is crucial to show how important universities are, both nationally and locally.

"Their impact is considerable. Student spending alone is significant and we are seeing a growing number of international students coming here, while the number of visitors attracted to the city because of the student population is also increasing.

"All this has a positive impact on local businesses and services."

Both universities this year have received record numbers of applications and the report stated how universities were "increasingly recognised as a core part of the national and regional economic infrastructure, generating employment and output, attracting export earnings and contributing to the Gross Domestic Product."

It found:

 •·         Both universities undertake activities and businesses for public and private sector clients and 32 per cent of revenue during the year came from the private sector and from overseas income.

  • The combined export earnings alone amounted to £32m.
  • The universities provided 4,231 fulltime equivalent jobs making them among the biggest employers in Brighton and Hove,
  • Students spent money on accommodation, food, clothing, entertainment, travel and consumer goods and services, and generated a total of £151m of output.


The report was written by independent  academic analysts. The same authors were responsible for the recent University of Strathclyde report showing the economic impact of all universities on the UK economy was £59b.

The new report shows Brighton and Hove, one of the UK's smaller cities, was responsible for more than 1/59th of that total.

It said that, overall, the two universities' activities generated over £1b of output and over 12,000 jobs in the UK. The majority of output (£967m) and jobs generated (around 11,328) were in the South East region. It concluded that they were now two of the largest employers in Brighton and Hove.

"In summary, this study of the two universities has shown them to make a substantial contribution to the economy of the South East and to be of core economic importance to the Brighton and Hove area."

Notes for Editors


'The economic impact of Brighton's universities' was written by Ursula Kelly and [Professor] Iain McNicoll

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Last updated: Thursday, 7 October 2010