The ‘significant’ benefit of Warwick University and its students to Leamington’s economy and community has been highlighted in an independent report this week.
SQW, a UK-based provider of research and analysis, has reported that the average annual expenditure for a Warwick student in Leamington is £13,000 and that this combined with the 1,850 jobs the university has a role in providing created £84 million for the town’s economy last year.
Further benefits listed include the friends and families of students visiting the area and boosting tourism in the town and the West Midlands as a whole and the surge of investment in the region’s industry and business that comes with the University’s reputation for research and helping companies to innovate.
Prof Nigel Thrift, vice chancellor and president of the university, said: “Our world class business school works with companies and entrepreneurs across the West Midlands and Warwick Manufacturing Group continues to strengthen its relationships with major employers in Coventry and Warwickshire - attracting the very best talent to work and study in the local area.
“However it’s the extraordinary wealth of people all working, studying and thinking at the University of Warwick that is our biggest contribution to the region and local communities.”
The study credits the University for its role in Leamington’s thriving ‘Silicon Spa’ computer games and software development industry with several of the entrepreneurs involved, including Black Pepper Software founder John Cooke, being Warwick graduates.
Leamington is home to 1,900 Warwick graduates but it is the university’s undergraduates who are of most concern to people in the town.
Those living south of the River Leam have, in the past, expressed fears about the impact the growing number of students and student houses have on the community.
In June last year Old Town resident Helen Lothian called for a public meeting to discuss what she had described as the ‘studentification’ of Leamington.
Others have complained about the excess noise, litter and drunken behaviour caused by groups of students living near their homes.
And in May county councillor Matt Western (Lab, Leamington Willes) called for a moratorium on projects to develop houses of multiple occupancy and student houses in Leamington saying that they were distorting the housing market and having a profound effect on communities.
The study has also focused on the volunteer work Warwick students do in the community through the Warwick Volunteers scheme.
This work has included providing academic support to pupils at Sydenham Primary School.
Associate headteacher Carla Matthews said: “The reading volunteers have really helped our children’s progress and given them opportunities we could not have provided them with ourselves.”