Economic impact of University of Suffolk over £860 million

17 June 2024 4 min. read
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The University of Suffolk’s national gross value added has been estimated at more than £860 million, by a new white-paper. The study finds that In Ipswich alone, the university generates enough value to sustain more than 1,000 jobs – but across Britain that rises to over 13,000.

First founded as University Campus Suffolk in 2007, out of a collaboration between Norfolk’s University of East Anglia and the University of Essex, the institution gained independence in 2016 and rebranded as the University of Suffolk.

As well as a central hub in the county’s capital of Ipswich, the university has three other campuses; two in Suffolk located in Bury St Edmunds, Lowestoft, and another in Norfolk, in the seaside town of Great Yarmouth which focuses on foundation courses.

The university operates six academic faculties and has around 10,000 students. Offering alternative routes into higher education, the institution’s student body saw 66% of the students identify as women, while 53% were mature students.

Economic impact of University of Suffolk over £860 million

Source: BiGGAR Economics

As well as helping often-marginalised demographics to boost their skills and access better-paid work, this helps contribute to a large economic footprint, far beyond the University of Suffolk’s bases in the East of England.

Now, a new report from BiGGAR Economics has highlighted just how great this impact is. According to the consultancy’s ‘Economic Impact Study’ for the University of Suffolk, the institution delivers £237 million in gross economic value (GVA) to Ipswich alone – and directly supports 1,660 jobs. In that £237 million, the value added includes 900 jobs generated by core teaching and research, and 760 roles generated by student impacts – making it a key contributor to the town’s economy.

That impact is even more pronounced at a regional level, though. Across the East of England, the University of Suffolk contributes £484 million GVA and supports 3,760 jobs – of which £332 million GVA and 2,740 supported jobs were delivered to the county of Suffolk alone.

Speaking on the research, Vice-Chancellor Helen Langton said, “As an anchor institution in Ipswich and Suffolk, it is important that the University of Suffolk delivers real-world impacts in our communities, and our signing of the Civic University pledge marks a continued commitment to this goal. Providing transformational higher education study opportunities for those who may never have had the chance, helping regenerate Ipswich, supporting and developing our NHS workforce, and partnering with businesses and community organisations are just some of the ways we have, and will continue, to serve Ipswich, Suffolk and beyond.”

Economic impact of University of Suffolk over £860 million

Source: BiGGAR Economics

Addressing that “and beyond”, BiGGAR Economics also found that the University helped generate £862 million across the whole of the UK via its operations and economic activity. From 2021 to 2022 this supported more than 13,500 jobs. This included £333 million GVA delivered through the impact of graduates on the national economy – including a high proportion of women and mature students who are now able to make a greater impact on the market thanks to accessing higher education.

Pro Vice-Chancellor Business and Entrepreneurship Gurpreet Jagpal added, “Our study demonstrates just how important our work at the University is in the UK, the region and in our county, delivering exceptional growth in only a few years. The growth in the University’s student population shows that this has become a real destination of choice for students who know they will be supported into good careers, and the expansion of our research and knowledge exchange work is delivering a powerful impact in our communities in Suffolk and beyond. With further exciting developments and ambitious plans for the future, we are confident this trajectory will continue.”

The new findings mark a significant increase in GVA generated across the UK of £500 million since the previous study, which covered the time between 2017 and 2018. The current figures suggest that for every £1 the university receives, it supports £6 in GVA across the UK.

Looking ahead, the university is committed to sustaining this, and has signed a Civic University Agreement, which commits the institution to continuing its contribution to the wellbeing and prosperity of people in Suffolk. Those pledges include preserving and celebrating the culture and heritage of Suffolk by working with artists, historians and cultural institutions; fostering sustainable economic growth and regeneration; and harnessing digital innovation.