Higher education institutions in the region, including Bradford University, generated more than £5 billion in economic impact during a one-year period, according to figures published today.

The report, from Universities UK, reveals the growing impact of higher education on the regional economy, with universities now acting as substantial enterprises.

Universities also bring income to the region by attracting international students who pay fees and spend money in the area.

Professor Brian Cantor, vice-chancellor of the University of Bradford, said: “These figures demonstrate the vital role higher education institutions play in driving local economic growth. “Here in Bradford, we value the importance of universities to the local economy in terms of quality, innovation and investment. This is done through developing knowledge, business engagement and employment opportunities.

“Bradford is the youngest major city in the UK – 23 per cent of the population was under the age of 16 in 2012 and a high proportion of our University students are local by background.”

For Yorkshire and Humberside, the report found that, in 2011–12:

* higher education institutions in the region generated an output of £2.2 billion and, through knock-on effects, generated an additional £2.8 billion in other industries throughout the UK;

* universities attracted 33,655 students from outside the UK to study in the region and 94,430 students from other parts of the UK l international revenue amounted to £422 million which, together with the estimated off-campus expenditure of international students, represented a total of £802 million of export earnings for the region 

* universities provided 27,375 full-time equivalent jobs across a range of occupations and skill levels and 28,227 full-time equivalent jobs were generated outside the universities, with most based in the region

* the universities, together with the expenditure of their international students and students from the rest of the UK, generated 62,838 jobs in the region. This was equivalent to 2.5 per cent of the region’s workforce in employment in 2012.

The regional analysis was published today alongside a UK-wide study on the impact of the higher education sector on the UK economy, which were both launched at a Universities UK conference.

Professor Sir Christopher Snowden, president of Universities UK, said: “It is clear that universities are making an increasingly significant contribution to the regional economy, both in terms of contribution to GDP and creating jobs. Universities also attract significant investment from overseas.

“While the study looked at only one aspect of economic impact, we should not forget also the major contribution to the economy from producing skilled graduates and generating ground-breaking research. Universities also produce significant non-economic benefits. They improve the life chances of individuals and also provide a social and cultural boost to communities through access to art, music, sports and other facilities.

“With the 2015 general election on the horizon, this report serves as a timely reminder to policymakers of universities’ growing impact on local communities, jobs and the wider economy.”