Report finds Russell Group of universities are planning to spend over £9bn on capital projects between now and 2016-17

LSE New Students’ Centre

LSE New Students’ Centre

The UK’s top universities are expected to spend over £9bn on capital projects between now and 2016-17 according to a new report published on behalf of the Russell Group of Universities.

The Group, which comprises 24 research-led universities, asked consultant Biggar Economics to assess the economic impact that capital investment within the higher education group would have to the UK economy.

The report found that over a 25-year period the gross added value to the UK economy from capital projects would total over £44.3bn and support around 98,000 jobs.

The report estimated that a total of 11,680 construction jobs would be created over the five years to 2017, with a GVA of £2.9bn to the industry.

Included in the report were 67 significant projects including seven “major developments”, 17 research facilities, and 12 medical research facilities.

Spending totalled £1.1bn on major developments; £702m on science, technology, engineering and maths facilities; £335m on student accommodation; £75m on IT facilities; £147m on teaching facilities; and £85m on business schools.

The scale of the investment is more than the £8.9bn spent on the London Olympics and is planned to help the UK’s leading universities keep pace in international rankings as well as attract the best international research opportunities and students.

Earlier this week Oxford University announced plans to spend £1.8bn over the next decade to compete with international rivals.

Projects include a Big Data institute and an increase in the size of the estate by 28%.

Cambridge University also recently gained planning permission for a £120m mixed-use biomedical campus called The Forum.

The development includes a 900-delegate conference centre and a 90-bed private hospital and a four-star hotel.

Speaking about the report, Dr Wendy Piatt, director general of the Russell Group, said: “Russell Group universities are engines of growth for the British economy.

“Not only do they lead the way in teaching and research - but they’re also a driving force behind the creation of new jobs, new opportunities for start-up companies and urban renewal in our cities.

 “The Government have recognised much of this contribution but we would urge them to step up big capital investment in our universities.

“We will keep investing on behalf of our students and academics but the rest of the world are snapping at our heels and spending money to match their ambition. We must do the same.”