Figures released by HEFCE at the start of Universities Week show that the value of interaction through knowledge exchange and partnerships between higher education institutions and the commercial and public sectors rose by over 5% in cash terms between 2007/08 and 2008/09, and now stands at just under £3 billion. Commenting on the figures, Alice Hynes, GuildHE CEO, said:

“These figures show that income to UK higher education institutions from outside the sector beat the economic slowdown. Institutions continue to support the economic recovery and growth for business, maximising the return on public investment in HE. For example, between 2007/08 and 2008/09 there was a 31% rise in the amount spent by commercial businesses on intellectual property. GuildHE is particularly interested to see the continued engagement of the UK’s Sector Skills Councils in a large number of its members’ institutions in growth areas like the creative industries, as well as essential public services like health. The SSC for Creative and Cultural Skills interacted with almost 60% of UK institutions in the course of a year, and the Skills for Health council interacted with almost half.

“The old view of higher education as ivory tower activity is challenged by this new picture of a sector whose income from business-related training or career retraining programmes can rise by 15% in a year and now stands at £175 million.”

GuildHE member institutions contribute significantly to business and the community.  Buckinghamshire New University made 2,200 consultancy contracts in 2008/09, with an even spread between SMEs and larger commercial business. The University for the Creative Arts has seen an increase of almost 6% in the number of graduate start-ups that are active for three or more years. Alice Hynes said:

“HE contributes in a lasting way to big and small business despite tough economic times. HEFCE’s figures are a timely success story and a reminder of the value of higher education institutions. It is a clear indication that HE’s expertise continues to be highly regarded, excellent value for money, and vital to both the business and the public sector.”

For more information, please contact:
Alice Hynes
GuildHE Chief Executive
Tel: 020 7387 7711

Notes to editors

1. HEFCE’s report on “Higher Education – Business and Community Interaction Survey 2008/09” can be found at

2. 14–20 June is Universities Week: more information visit

3. GuildHE members are among the most dynamic and fastest-growing institutions in higher education. For a list of GuildHE institutions, please visit: