20/11/2013

Higher Education Contributes £1bn Annually

Northern Ireland's higher education institutions contribute almost £1bn annually to the economy, according to Employment and Learning Minister Dr Stephen Farry.

Colleges and universities contribute to the economy through expenditure from a range of factors including employment, with around 7,000 full time equivalent jobs across a wide range of occupations, he said.

Dr Farry was speaking during an Assembly motion on the importance of the higher education sector in Northern Ireland.

"Our Higher Education Institutions make a vast contribution to our economy through the provision of high quality teaching and learning, leading to highly skilled graduates and postgraduates; and the development of high quality, internationally excellent research, translating into successful innovation and knowledge transfer and the creation of spin out companies.

"The development of a vibrant, world-class research base is crucial to the continued development of Northern Ireland’s economy, with the higher education sector generating commercial opportunities and scientific breakthroughs and propagating high-value jobs and investment," the Minister continued.

"The Department continues to support the innovation agenda, enabling the universities, not only to carry out high quality research, but also to translate that research into the market through knowledge transfer."

He said Northern Ireland universities provide income generation of £35.4m for collaborative research and £5.4m income from intellectual property.

"Higher education is a major driver of economic development," Dr Farry said.

"It will continue to focus on the needs of the economy - upskilling and reskilling the current and future workforce, enhancing research and development activity and extending its reach locally, nationally and internationally."

(IT/MH)

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