Universities have vital role to play in the creative economy

A new report by Universities UK highlights the crucial role higher education plays in boosting the UK creative economy - an industry that is worth almost £60bn to the economy.

The report, Creating Prosperity: the role of higher education in driving the UK's creative economy, also demonstrates why sustaining that contribution with continued investment, will become increasingly important to economic recovery.  It finds that:

Creative industries have been identified by the Work Foundation as one of four sectors with the greatest potential to support economic recovery, and were recognised by the Chancellor as "a key part of the new economy we are seeking to build"

STEM and creativity are inextricably linked - successful knowledge economies need strength in both. This means that the subjects which support the creative economy should be considered as a priority, attracting public investment for teaching in a post-Browne environment.

Innovation is crucial to the future growth of the creative economy. This requires people with high-level skills combined with the ability to work across disciplines, challenge current practice and develop new solutions and opportunities. Higher education has a central role to play in this agenda.

Within their courses, universities are increasingly creating opportunities for hands-on experience in industry as a way of enhancing the employability of their graduates and creating a valuable resource for participating organisations.

There is growing focus on entrepreneurship education, and universities are actively engaged in supporting activities to encourage and enable more graduate start-ups.

A number of universities have developed as regional hubs for innovation - drawing together academia and business in networks that encourage experimentation and risk.

Nigel Carrington, Rector of University of the Arts London, said: "The contribution of creative graduates to an innovative knowledge economy must be recognised and celebrated if the UK is to maintain and enhance its standing on the world stage.

"This report highlights the extent to which scientific and creative approaches are co-dependent when it comes to powering the UK economy. Great technology is important but great design is what makes products usable, attractive and commercially successful - it's no coincidence that the iPod and the Dyson, two of the big consumer innovations of recent decades, were developed by people with a creative rather than a scientific education."

Professor Steve Smith, President of Universities UK said: "As this report shows, the future success of the creative industries depends on the ability to innovate and compete in fast moving global markets. This is where universities have a vital role to play, nurturing research, producing new ideas and feeding into industry so we can maintain our competitive edge.

"Some of finest artists, designers and musicians in the world have come through the UK's higher education system, but there is a real risk that they will look elsewhere if these disciplines are not adequately supported."

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