CBI report highlights Goldsmiths’ role in local economy

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Goldsmiths, University of London has been used as a case study in a report on how universities can contribute to London’s economic revival.

Goldsmiths is among five universities that the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) has highlighted for attracting “the brightest talent for London’s businesses, enhance international and diplomatic relations and support London’s local economies, communities, and industries.”

Collectively, London’s higher education institutions generate £17bn each year in goods and services, including £2.9bn in export earnings.

Some £39m of Goldsmiths’ £41m goods and services spend in 2018-19 went to UK-based businesses, which is estimated to have supported over 400 UK jobs. Of these, 64 jobs (16%) are with employers based in the borough of Lewisham and 191 (47%) are with employers based in London. 

With an annual spend of around £134m or £89m excluding housing, the spending habits of Goldsmiths students in cafes, pubs, shops and other facilities close to campus also makes a significant contribution to the local area. 

Goldsmiths produces 1.3% of the annual revenue of Lewisham, and is one of the largest employers in the borough. The College is a member of Lewisham’s ‘Back to Business’ taskforce which was set up to support local business and growth locally, and also a key member of the borough’s flagship economic development project, the Creative Enterprise Zone for New Cross and Deptford. 

Through initiatives such as partnerships with local FE colleges, as well as the delivery of short courses, Goldsmiths is working to support ‘upskilling’ and career development in the local community. Through the Lewisham Local partnership, Goldsmiths also supports organisations and groups in the community and voluntary sector through student and staff volunteering, internships, placements and research and knowledge exchange projects. 

In a report, published in August, the CBI highlighted Goldsmiths’ scheme to provide more than 300 students with laptops, broadband packages, or both, during lockdown in order to combat digital exclusion. Students applied for help through the university’s Online Learning Access Fund (OLAF) at the beginning of the lockdown period and were issued with equipment to enable the continuation of learning, training and work. 

Among the report’s proposed seven steps for City Hall to support London’s universities post-pandemic is an assurance that no student or prospective student is unable to attend university because of digital poverty. Using Goldsmiths’ OLAF as an example, the CBI is urging the Mayor to create a London Tech Guarantee in collaboration with the CBI, universities, colleges and business, to provide disadvantaged young Londoners with devices and data. 

The CBI, which represents 190,000 businesses employing some 7 million people, is asking the Mayor of London to make the case for the strategic importance of London’s universities. They ask that the Mayor utilise higher education’s strengths in helping create fair and inclusive growth across the city’s 32 boroughs. 

Eddie Curzon, CBI's Director of London and South, said: "Goldsmiths have been incredibly helpful in the development of the CBI’s HE policy work in London. We are delighted to be collaborating with them as part of our work with City Hall, to ensure that our universities are viewed as key enablers in London’s economic recovery."

Read the CBI policy paper The strategic importance of universities to London’s economic revival from COVID-19 online now.