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Report reveals University of the Highlands and Islands partnership's £560m economic contribution


By Calum MacLeod

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The report also suggested that the 12,360 people who qualified from the University in 2019 will generate an estimated lifetime earnings premium
of £324 million to the economy of the Highlands and Islands, Moray and Perthshire.
The report also suggested that the 12,360 people who qualified from the University in 2019 will generate an estimated lifetime earnings premium of £324 million to the economy of the Highlands and Islands, Moray and Perthshire.

A TOTAL of £560 million is injected into the economies of the Highlands and Islands, Moray and Perthshire and 6200 jobs supported by the existence of the University of the Highlands and Islands (UHI) partnership, a new report has revealed.

The report, which was commissioned by the university partnership last year, also found that for every £1 spent on the university, the university partnership puts £4 back into the economies of the communities it serves.

The study by independent consultancy, Biggar Economics, also reveal that the partnership's impact across Scotland has grown by between 20 per cent and 25 per cent since it was last measured in 2010, mainly due to an increase in staff and graduates. The partnership achieved full university status in 2011 and will be celebrating that anniversary in February 2021.

However, the authors add: "The benefits of the university extend beyond the significant gross value added and jobs measures.

"It supports sustainable and inclusive economic wellbeing and social development in the broadest sense, for people, communities and employers across the region. It supports heritage and culture, the economy, the environment, the regional health sector and it offers pathways through tertiary education that give routes to personal and collective growth and development.

"Through the university, the region has greater control of its own economic and social future which will be especially important in helping its recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic."

Biggar Economics has also published reports on the economic impact of the individual colleges and research institutions which make up the university partnership. The network covers the largest geographical area of any campus-based university or college in the UK and has the largest student population in Scotland, with nearly 37,000 students studying across the university partnership each year.

Inverness College UHI and Perth College UHI make the biggest individual economic contributions of the partnership, at £113 million each. However, Inverness College UHI supports slightly fewer jobs – a total of approximately 1000 throughout the Highland Council area – than its Perth counterpart, which supports 1250 jobs in Perth and Kinross.

The Highland Council region also benefits from a £34 million contribution and 340 jobs supported by North Highland College UHI and £2 million and 30 jobs from Dingwall's Highland Theological College UHI, while Lochaber-base West Highland College UHI also supports approximately 340 jobs and contributes £27 million. Skye's Sabhal Mòr Ostaig UHI Gaelic college contributes £7 million and supports 140 jobs.

Moray College UHI contributes £58 million and supports 890 jobs throughout Moray.

In total in 2019, the university partnership contributed £653 million to the Scottish economy nationally and supported 7200 jobs across Scotland.

The report authors found that University is actively encouraging growth in the cultural economy through its faculty of arts, humanities and business.
The report authors found that University is actively encouraging growth in the cultural economy through its faculty of arts, humanities and business.

Professor Crichton Lang, the interim UHI principal and vice-chancellor, said: "We commissioned these reports to measure the contribution our university partnership makes to the communities we serve. It shows that investment in our partnership has a clear benefit and, in these uncertain economic times, it is important to understand this benefit and highlight the full extent of the value the university partnership brings.

"As a flourishing university for the Highlands and Islands, Moray and Perthshire we aim to retain, attract and nurture talent in our region to reverse population decline and build innovation and socio-economic prosperity. This mission is particularly important as we work to support the recovery of our region following the Covid-19 pandemic. The nature of employment will change and we are working with employers, communities and learners to respond to their needs."

In addition to the economic impact, the study also found that younger people account for an increasing share of the University’s student community, representing 41 per cent of all students in 2019, up from 30 per cent in 2011, with 89 per cent coming from the Highlands and Islands, Moray and Perthshire area.

The University of the Highlands and Islands' economic impact assessment report is available here in the publications section of the university's website.



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