Argyll College UHI Contributes £26 Million to Region
A new report shows that Argyll College UHI contributes £26 million to the local economy of Argyll & Bute every year; a further £4 million across Scotland as a whole, and supports 280 jobs in the region.
The report, produced by the independent consultancy Biggar Economics, reveals that the University of the Highlands and Islands’ impact across Scotland has grown by between 20% and 25% since it was last measured in 2010, mainly due to an increase in staff and graduates.
Department for Business Innovation and Skills research implies that the average graduate premium for all first-degree qualifiers is estimated to be £108,100 over their working lives. Based in part on this research, The Biggar Economics report concludes that the productivity impact associated with students receiving awards from Argyll College UHI in 2019 is estimated to be £18 million GVA in Argyll and Bute.
However, the authors highlight that Argyll College’s value goes far beyond its financial contribution, explaining: ‘‘The college’s digitally connected centres allow for provision across geographically scattered rural communities, in a way that would be impossible for more traditional institutions. There are several areas of value here for the labour market.’’
‘‘The college helps address skills shortages that would be faced by the health and care sector without local provision. These sectors struggle to attract labour from elsewhere in Scotland, and so the college provides an opportunity for Argyll to “grow its own” health and social care workers, allowing its residents to move into the sector during their life course. The sustainability of the labour market in this sector is of fundamental importance to the future of Argyll. Without nurses and care workers the viability of rural hospitals in Dunoon, Lochgilphead and Campbeltown might be questionable.’’
Additionally, ‘‘The opportunity to study at post graduate level for a teaching career with UHI’s PDGE qualifications provides similar support in the labour market for education, allowing Argyll residents to re-skill into the teaching profession. Together, this means the college plays an important role in plugging structural gaps in key public services.’’
Welcoming the findings, College Principal Martin Jones said, ‘‘In just over two decades since its inception, Argyll College UHI is proving to be of major economic benefit to Argyll & Bute and an integral part of the fabric of the communities we serve. These headline figures are impressive, but the true value of the college is to be felt at an individual level, where access to education is improving the lives of every one of our students.’’
The report authors conclude, “Through the university, the region has greater control of its own economic and social future which will be especially important in helping its recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.”