Fife university’s positive impact on Scottish economy

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The University of St Andrews contributes over £473 million per year to the Scottish economy and supports 6990 jobs, according to a new economic impact report.

The report, by Midlothian-based BiGGAR Economics, found that Scotland’s oldest university has increased its economic impact by £50.3 million (+12 per cent) between 2014/15 and 2016/17 and is supporting 430 additional jobs.

St Andrews, one of the country’s smallest universities, employed 2,690 staff in 2016/17 and had around 8,940 full-time students.

The report – Economic Impact of the University of St Andrews, 2016/17 – found that for every £1 of public money invested in the university through teaching and research grants, the University returns £11.80 to the Scottish economy.

For every £1 of income received from public funds through the Scottish Funding Council (SFC), the university was able to lever in almost £5 of additional income from other sources.

The University of St Andrews is one of the Scottish universities that is least reliant on income from the SFC.

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In 2016/17, St Andrews received £40.1 million from the SFC in grants.

This was equivalent to 17 per cent of the university’s income in this year.

To put this in context, the SFC accounted for approximately 32 per cent of income for all Scottish universities in the same year.

The report authors looked at the impacts of core university spending, staff and student spending, business and spin-out activity, capital spend, tourism and community projects in the financial year 2016/17.

Overall the university generated £268.6 million for the local St Andrews economy supporting 4,260 jobs, and £298.3 million throughout the Fife economy supporting 4,830 jobs.

St Andrews chief operating officer Derek Watson said: “Our primary mission is the pursuit of excellence in teaching and research, but this analysis underlines the fact that St Andrews, like many other Scottish universities, generates not only knowledge, but wealth and employment.

“Since the last economic impact report our annual gross contribution to the Scottish economy has grown by £50 million a year to £473 million due to increasing spend by the university with local suppliers, our impact on tourism, spending by our staff and the economic impact of our students.

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“Universities are an economic success story given their proven multiplier effect, the freedom to operate in international markets and the level of sustainable employment they are capable of generating.”

North East Fife MP Stephen Gethins said: “With a world-class reputation, the University of St Andrews punches well above its weight not just for academic excellence but also for the major economic benefits it brings locally and nationally.

“The university is hugely important to St Andrews and North East Fife, supporting employment, investment and high street spending from students, staff and tourists who come to visit Scotland’s oldest and most historic university.”

North East Fife MSP Willie Rennie added: “The University of St Andrews is not only one of the UK’s top universities, it is a major economic force in the Scottish and local economy, supporting thousands of jobs in and around St Andrews and local businesses across Fife.”