The attempt to quantify the sector’s unseen value takes into account such factors as health and well-being, “citizenship” and political engagement. Compiled for Universities UK by the new economics foundation (NEF), the report, Degrees of value: how universities benefit society, measures the “social return on investment” in an attempt to put cash values on societal outcomes.
It says it is “an initial attempt to evoke discussion about the broader public contributions from the diverse ways in which everyone profits from the university sector”.
Faiza Shaheen, the author of the report and an economist at the NEF thinktank, argues that universities need to become more vocal about the public value they deliver.
“Everyone knows that higher education is essential for a thriving economy,” she said. “But universities deliver much more than just economic benefit to the UK. They’ve been helping to build a ‘Big Society’ long before the current concept had been conceived.”