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Universities in Cornwall contribute more than £490 million to the Cornish economy reveals Oxford Economics study

A study by independent economic analysts, Oxford Economics, confirms that Falmouth University (Falmouth) and the University of Exeter (UoE), who share and jointly manage the Penryn Campus, have contributed £491 million to the economy of Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly between 2002 and 2012.

The universities have also contributed £144 million to the UK Exchequer during this period.

The study demonstrates that the universities’ economic impact has grown sharply over the past decade, with their contribution to Cornwall’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) increasing by almost 300% and the number of jobs supported by them increasing by almost 200%, with the universities accounting for 1 in every 155 jobs in the county.

The contribution made by the universities’ students and employees is significant, with student living expenditure alone having contributed £111 million to the local economy between 2002 and 2012.

John Pollard, Leader of Cornwall Council and joint Deputy Chair of the Convergence Local Management Committee, which steers the Convergence programme, said: “The vision at the start of European funding in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly was to work in partnership to transform our higher education and research facilities at the Penryn Campus into a world-class asset for the region. Anyone who visits the Campus today will experience the energy and innovation which buzzes through it as private and public sectors work together. The announcement that this collaboration has already contributed £491 million to the GDP of Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly in ten years is impressive. I look forward to the next ten years of the Penryn Campus’ achievements.”

Professor Anne Carlisle, Vice-Chancellor & Chief Executive for Falmouth, said: “As the county’s first university, Falmouth is committed to playing its part in the growth and the success of the region, and we are delighted to see this evidenced through the findings from Oxford Economics. The creative and cultural industries play a major role in the economic vitality of Cornwall and I am confident that the region will enjoy on-going growth from its universities.”

Professor Mark Goodwin, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (External Affairs) at UoE with responsibility for Cornwall, said: “As the University of Exeter prepares to celebrate its tenth anniversary at the shared Penryn Campus, this study provides the evidence that our local communities and the county of Cornwall are benefiting from our ongoing success. I am immensely proud of the contribution that our students and staff have made to Cornwall’s economic development so far and anticipate further positive impacts from our fastest growing campus in the next decade.”

The report highlights that the most important impact of the universities’ £197 million investment in the Penryn Campus and its facilities, made possible by the European Union’s Objective One and Convergence funding streams, and match funding from the UK government, has been to enhance Cornwall’s productive capacity and the expansion of higher education and research in the county.

The study also cites a range of additional activities that are led by the universities, which impact positively on communities, businesses, and the cultural life of the region. The most significant amongst these are the universities’ vital contribution to Cornwall’s skills and knowledge base; their support of local businesses through sharing knowledge, ideas and technologies; and the extensive community and voluntary work undertaken by their students.

In addition, the study recognises the benefits the universities offer to the local community via public access to their facilities and the various performances, lectures and events that they host.