How does a university define the geography of its local economy? Is it the immediate geographic area where the institution has a physical presence? Is it where its students are primarily drawn from? Is it the main locations its students go on to be employed in? Is it linked to the industry and research partners the university has? Is it defined by the LEP region or administrative boundaries the institution lies within and neighbours? Is there no fixed definition and does it depend on a particular activity an institution is engaged in?
The UK Commission for Employment and Skills (UKCES – now defunct) published an article in 2015 examining the role of universities and business schools as ‘anchor institutions’ in their local economies through their links to local small firms, including consultancy, contract research, continued professional development and graduate start-ups. That work can attract funding, such as for the Skills for Growth ESF project, but also major research projects relevant to local industry. Knowledge Exchange activities according to the Technical Report produced for Research England on KEF metrics are partially defined by institutions’ local economies and the engagement of local businesses with their local HEI.
Universities are encouraged by the Office for Students (OfS) to address regional and local priorities in their Access and Participation Plans. The first OfS Challenge Competition is explicitly focused on improving outcomes for graduates who seek employment in their home region and cites 2015-16 DLHE returns which indicate two thirds of graduates are employed in their home region and nearly half of students remain in their home region for both study and work, demonstrating the importance for many universities in understanding their regional economic eco-system as a supplier of graduate labour.
The Civic University Agreement is driven by the principle of HEIs being ‘place-based institutions’ and the Civic University Commission calls for engagement with local authorities, LEPS and the local industrial strategy as well as the local communities where they have their footprint. The Commission recommends universities define their civic boundaries by understanding what the local and regional links are, so that university can clearly articulate its strategy and measure its impact.
There’s a fair understanding of where university students are coming from and where they’re going to (within the well-known limitations of DLHE/LEO data and the generally dire level of universities’ own alumni data). As a result, universities know to some extent the impact they have on delivering a supply of graduate labour into their local/regional economies. From TEF to the Civic and Widening Participation agendas, there’s a need to understand the labour markets that students are entering. How the boundaries are defined will depend on the student data, existing cooperation with partners such as LEPs and Local Authorities, links to employers and research and knowledge exchange projects linked to local industry.
Geography is a key factor in understanding labour markets. Emsi data allows you to view highly granular industry (SIC4) and occupational (SOC4) data to Local Authority level since 2003, projecting forward over the next decade. Our online tools allow institutions to define the geographies according to their needs for each particular project they are working on, so the labour market data is not a generic picture of the national average, but a highly insightful window into what is actually happening in a local economy, no matter how it is being defined. When we combine that structural economic data with our Big Data for job posting analytics, we give you deeper insight into the actual skills and roles being recruited for, the demand from specific towns and cities within your region as well as the individual employers.
Place is a key datapoint for allowing us to link a wide range of datasets. New insights Emsi are able to bring come from understanding graduate labour market supply. Here we have two key sources: national student data from HESA, including demographic and WP measures, and Emsi Profiles — a new Big Data source of normalised and aggregated insights drawn from CVs from a range of sources with a variety of datapoints, including the institutions people graduated from, the year they graduated, job titles, skills, location and so forth. We can create custom geographies for both these datasets creating a wealth of insights and opportunities for innovative analyses into a university’s region of interest.
If your institution needs to quantify the factors it responds to, contextualise its impacts within an economy, and ensure that there is a robust quantitative evidence base for its engagement and delivery strategies across its activities, then we can help.
To find out more, contact our Director of Higher Education, Richard Hewitt, at firstname.lastname@example.org. Alternatively, click on the button below to book a free consultation, where we’ll show you the data for your area.