11/07/2008

Economy Benefits From Higher Education: Survey

The latest survey of interaction between the Higher Education (HE) sector and business demonstrates the major role universities and colleges play in the UK economy - as long as the students remain to complete their courses - as growing numbers have been found to be 'dropping-out'.

The seventh Higher Education-Business and Community Interaction (HE-BCI) survey report shows that universities and colleges continue to make a substantial contribution to the economy and society across a broad range of activities.

These activities vary widely, from the commercialisation of new knowledge, through the delivery of professional training, consultancy and services, to activities intended to have direct social benefits.

The survey shows that the two Northern Ireland HE Institutions have succeeded in increasing the breadth of their collaboration across the local economy.

Queen's University Belfast (pictured) now works with 15 of the 19 Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) sectors in Northern Ireland, and the University of Ulster with all but one.
News Image
This is a considerable improvement on the 2005/06 figures where both institutions worked with 13 out of the 19 SIC sectors.

This success is also reflected in the collaborative research income to the two universities which has increased by nearly one third from the previous survey.

NI Employment and Learning Minister Sir Reg Empey welcomed the results of the survey and said: "As well as the substantial increase in collaborative research income achieved by our two universities, which now stands at over £14million, the value of individual research contracts with the two universities are now, on average, 50% higher than last year.

"Commercial businesses and non-commercial organisations are seeing the benefits that the expertise within our universities can bring and are spending almost £11million on contract research and a further £2.6million on specialist consultancy services," he concluded.

However, and less positively, it has emerged that the University of Ulster has one of the highest rates of students quitting after a year of study.

Its 15.2% drop-out rate was the 10th worst out of 150 universities in the UK, according to Higher Education Statistics Agency figures.

At Queen's University, just 7.5% of first year students left.

(BMcC/KMcA)

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