Figures show that the University of Glasgow contributes £4.4 billion to the UK economy

London Economics

The University of Glasgow is a leading research-intensive HE institution. Its economic footprint is significant, due largely to its high-quality research, learning and teaching activity, international reach and contribution to educational exports. 

In 2021, London Economics, one of Europe’s leading economic consultancies, independently assessed the University’s economic contribution to the UK economy. This impact was estimated to be around £4.4 billion (based on 2018/19 data), 42 per cent of which is comprised of productivity spillovers associated with the University’s high-quality research.

The size and breadth of the University means it is a significant anchor institution and contributor to the Glasgow City Region (GCR) economy and beyond, directly employing over 8,000 people, and supporting a student population of over 30,000, many of whom live and spend locally. The University’s expenditure and that of its international student population supports an estimated 14,350 full-time equivalent (FTE) jobs (excluding University staff), 72 per cent of which are in Scotland and the remainder across the rest of the UK.

A significant contributor to the local economy, the University is currently investing some £1 billion in a Campus Development programme. The economic impact of the University’s expenditure represents a benefit-to-cost ratio (i.e. relative benefit to costs) of 5.8:1. In other words, for every £1 million the University spends, it generates a further £5.8 million in the UK economy. The University’s impact on the UK economy increased by 14 per cent in the three years to 2018-19 - to £4.4 billion, highlighting the significant economic contribution it makes.


The University of Glasgow is also an international university. It welcomes students from more than 140 different countries, supports a global alumni community of more than 219,000 people, and more than doubled its international student population in the past ten years. It offers a range of qualifications in partnership with three international universities across China and Singapore, and has a further 420 study abroad and exchange partners. The University’s international students generate around £631 million for the UK economy through their expenditure on tuition fees and living costs.

The University’s growing global reputation and international reach is reflected by the fundamental role our research plays in influencing national and international policy. Our academic community work with a range of partners from across the globe, to help tackle some of the grand challenges of our age.

The economic impact associated with the University’s core activities relate to:

The University’s is also a major contributor to non-economic and social outcomes in the economy, including: its role in supporting inclusive economic growth, addressing inequalities, improving social mobility, improving population health and wellbeing, supporting sustainability, and contributing to the local community’s sense of place and cultural vitality. These wider impacts have been particularly significant in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the University has worked with its civic partners and the wider Glasgow community to collectively deal with the pandemic’s economic and social impacts.

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  • The University’s research supports £1.8 billion of economic activity in the UK.

  • Every £1 million invested in the University’s research, £7.2 million of economic activity is generated, 95% of which is a result of productivity spillovers in the private sector.

  • The University’s total research-related income (£253 million) accounted for 9% of the total gross domestic expenditure on research and development (GERD) in Scotland in 2018.

  • The University of Glasgow ranked in the top five UK universities generating intellectual property from research in 2018-19, confirming the University as a top UK inventor.


  • The University’s expenditure generates an additional £1.2 billion of economic activity in the UK.

  • For every £1 million the University spends on operational or capital expenditure, it generates an additional £1.54 million in economic activity in the UK.

  • The University directly employs over 8,000 people (6,280 FTE) and supports an additional 8,515 FTE (UK) though its expenditures, of which 6,565 FTE are in Scotland.

Teaching and Learning

  • The University’s teaching and learning activity is worth £734 million to the UK economy.  

  • 84% of the University’s UK-domiciled students are from Scotland and 54% of its Scottish undergraduate students are from the Glasgow City Region.

  • The University’s Widening Participation team works with more than 30,000 students across the west of Scotland each year, tackling barriers to university for those from the most deprived areas.  

  • 27% of the University’s Scottish undergraduate students come from the most deprived areas of Scotland, 23% of Scottish undergraduates participated in a Widening Participation programme prior to entry.


  • The University’s international students contribute £631 million to the UK economy, 72% of which is generated within Scotland.

  • International students support 5,835 FTE across the UK, 4,385 of which are in Scotland.

  • Almost 50% of international students’ expenditure is on living costs, helping to support economic activity and employment. 

  • Every £1 million in expenditure incurred by international students, helps to supports an additional £1.53 million in economic activity in the UK, of which £0.84 million is in Scotland.

Reflecting on the report’s findings, Professor Sir Anton Muscatelli, Principal and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Glasgow said:

“This report is significant in demonstrating the true economic value of the University of Glasgow’s research, teaching and collaborations with industry in the city, Scotland and beyond.

“Universities in and of themselves are drivers of economic development. This report illustrates we are not only providing the innovative solutions and excellent research needed to tackle the challenges facing society, but we’re also key facilitators of Scotland’s economic recovery, productivity and growth.

“As an anchor institution, the University of Glasgow is rooted locally in our community and plays a key role in the economic, cultural, environmental and social wellbeing of our city. However, this report also describes our extensive global reach and our world-changing potential. With our diverse international student population, our global partnerships and our research excellence: Glasgow’s economic footprint stretches far and wide.

This report shows that Glasgow is very much at the forefront of several key sectors for the economy, from life sciences and Precision Medicine to quantum technology, 5G and digital innovations. We believe this report indicates how our University can continue to create jobs, drive innovation and growth,  and ultimately stimulate Scotland’s recovery now and into the future.”

The Economic Impact Report is published at an exciting time for the University, having launched its new Strategy: 'World Changers Together' in the spring of 2021. The University’s strategic Vision is to help bring inspiring people together through a shared common purpose, themed around 'Community, Collaboration and Challenges'. It was awarded Times Higher Education University of the Year in 2020 for its sector-leading efforts to redress historic links to slavery through a significant programme of reparative justice. The University also improved its position in the most recent Times Higher Education World University Rankings and QS World Rankings.

Cabinet Secretary for Finance and Economy Kate Forbes said:

“This report lays out in great detail the tremendous economic and cultural significance of the University of Glasgow, in Glasgow itself, in the West of Scotland, nationally and indeed internationally.  For almost 600 years the University of Glasgow has been a beacon of research and learning and its role today, in education; and its positive economic impact are as important as they ever were in helping Glasgow flourish”.