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What Impact Have Students Had on Leeds’ Local Economy?


Leeds has a great reputation as a student city and there are over 70,000 students enrolled in Leeds universities. The University of Leeds and Leeds Beckett University are the main ones, plus two other universities, including Leeds Trinity University and Leeds Arts University. Students can be seen all around Leeds and their impact is varied and obvious. But, what have these increasing student numbers contributed to Leeds and its local economy?

Universities are now economic heavyweights, with huge expenditure, income and investment. As not for profits, they are heavily investing their income in the facilities they can offer and in the wider region. With an increasingly competitive university sector, institutions are competing to attract more students than ever before. This is consequently providing opportunities for local businesses and suppliers.

At £588 million, the University of Leeds has the 8th largest income out of all UK universities. The University of Leeds contributed a massive £1.3 billion to the higher education sector, adding £2.4 billion to the region’s economy in 2013-14. In 2017, Leeds Beckett University had an annual turnover of £221 million, and they contribute an estimated £520 million to the regional economy. They also employ over 2,300 members of staff.

To really see the economic impact of the University of Leeds, it has been compared to other regional businesses. Its income is bigger than Leeds Building Society, Bettys and Taylors Group Ltd, Leeds Rhinos and Yorkshire County Cricket Club combined. There have also been a number of other economic knock on effects of Leeds’ universities. Local businesses, from cafes to bars to hairdressers, have all benefitted from the increasing expenditure of students.

The University of Leeds is the city’s 3rd largest employer in Leeds, supporting over 14,000 jobs across the country. According to The University of Leeds for every 100 full-time jobs created by the university, an extra 117 additional jobs are created, 92 of which are located in Yorkshire and Humber. Their partnership with the Goldman Sachs Small Business Programme supports 275 businesses in the region. As well as this, most of the University’s sports and leisure facilities are open to the public, and efforts like the weekly swimming programme, Sky Ride and Light Night have all increased engagement between the university and the community.

Leeds’ huge student population has also had an effect on the property market. The growing impact of students can even be seen in Leeds skyline; the tallest building in Leeds – Sky Plaza – is a purpose-built student accommodation (PBSA) development. Opal 3, Broadcasting Tower and Central Village Tower are other multi-storey student developments that can be seen on the Leeds skyline.

Leeds is also home to the top-earning postcode for rental yields – LS6 – which is home to a great deal of students and young professionals. Many property developers have been recognising the consistent undersupply of property in Leeds, especially for students and recent graduates. Property investment specialists like RW Invest have been enabling investors to make the most of Leeds’ booming population and invest in Leeds real estate. There is a significant undersupply of high quality housing available in Leeds, which means students and graduates are paying more and searching harder for suitable accommodation.

The large numbers of students who choose to live, study and often stay in Leeds are a major economic factor when looking at the city. The universities themselves are also hugely fundamental to the city, its modernisation and future plans.

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