When we think of the contribution made by the creative industries in the UK, we might tend to think in terms of cultural, social and educational impact. But how many of us would also add to these things the economic benefits brought about by these industries? It may not be what immediately springs to mind when considering creative industries, and yet the impact is significant.
According to Government figures, the creative industries – including films, music, video games, crafts and publishing – contribute just over £84.1 billion to the UK economy every year. And so whilst much attention is given to STEM subjects as being crucial to the health of the national economy, the huge part played by the creative industries means that they are not sectors that can be ignored.
The Dangers of Neglecting the Creative Industries
But how much impact do institutions that are either exclusively or at least partly involved in the creative industries have? Earlier this year, GuildHE, United Kingdom Arts and Design Institutions Association (UKADIA), and The Head Trust commissioned Emsi to undertake key research and analysis to measure the combined economic impact of 15 institutions – 13 specialist creative arts institutions and the creative students at two multi-faculty universities. The results of the study, which were revealed at an event held at St. Mary’s University, Twickenham, on November 22nd, showed clearly that the contribution of these institutions goes well beyond influencing the lives of students, bringing huge economic value to the national economy. According to Professor John Last, Vice Chancellor, Norwich University of the Arts and UKADIA Chair:
“The report is a timely reminder of the contribution these institutions make to the HE ecology, to our social and cultural world but most importantly to the economic wealth of our country. Indeed, as Darren Henley, the Chief Executive of Arts Council England notes in his introduction to this report, ‘our international competitors regard our success in the UK with envy – but an education system that focusses solely on STEM, important as it is, does so at its peril.’”
The Impact of Creative Focused Institutions
One part of the economic impact of these institutions is in attracting overseas students, who bring added income into the economy with spending on things like books, supplies, groceries, accommodation, transport, leisure activities etc. This is all money which wouldn’t enter the economy if those institutions didn’t exist, and the Emsi report estimates that in total, international students in creative focused institutions add approximately £77.3 million in income per year to the national economy (£24.7 million of this is from EU students, and £52.6 million from non-EU students).
Even more impressive is the figure for graduate impact. In general terms, there is a correlation between level of education and productivity, with productivity increasing along with the quality of education. Over time, the skills embodied by former students add up, and a chain reaction occurs: higher student incomes generate additional rounds of consumer spending, while new skills and training translate to increased business output and higher property income, causing still more consumer purchases and multiplier effects. The sum of all these direct and indirect effects comprises the total impact of the students’ added skills in their industries.
Education at creative focused institutions is no different. Approximately 94% of students from these institutions stay in the UK after graduating, where their enhanced skills and abilities bolster the output of employers, leading to higher income and a more robust economy. Emsi calculated that the accumulation of former creative focused institution students currently employed in the workforce amounts to £8.4 billion in added income in the UK’s economy each year – which is equivalent to 309,405 average wage jobs. Of this amount, approximately £755.3 million in added income occurs in creative arts industries.
The results of the Emsi study demonstrate that creative focussed institutions are an important part of the national economy, and that their value goes beyond the cultural, social and educational value we might normally associate them with. Professor Last comment:
“I would like to hope that as this report gains a wider audience and publicity that it will be persuasive with our policy makers and will continue and strengthen the arguments to evolve STEM into STEAM, with the arts and creative institutions equally acknowledged as central to our future.”
If you would like to find out more about how we can measure the economic impact of your institution, contact firstname.lastname@example.org (universities) or email@example.com (colleges)