Report available here
An Elephant in the Room: The hidden economic value of public engagement
and knowledge exchange in UK universities
Consulting March 2018
We have conducted
an analysis of the pro-bono public engagement and voluntary knowledge exchange which is undertaken by many UK university staff.
The analysis draws on survey data of staff across different UK universities to estimate the 'hidden' economic value.
Results suggest that, for the UK as a whole in 2017, the shadow economic value of this activity was £3.2 billion and
the work effort was equivalent to 24,493 FTE jobs,
Additional comments from the authors:
Ursula Kelly "Due to acknowledged data and resource constraints, we regard the empirical results in
this report as providing first-ever order of magnitude estimates of the nature and volume of this hitherto unquantified aspect
of UK universities' activities. The results are undoubtedly sufficiently robust to prove that pro bono engagement by university
staff going beyond academe itself makes a large and significant, albeit unrecognised, contribution to the UK economy and society
as a whole. In fact the widespread reaction to the report is already realising our main aim in producing it : future
discussions about, or evaluations of, UK university activities and value for society will have to include recognition
of staff pro bono engagements."
Emeritus Professor Iain McNicoll: " I have
spent a considerable number of pro bono hours revisiting the evidence underlying this report to ascertain if anything additional
of substance can be taken from it. I have drawn on: prior personal knowledge of UK HEIs' activities; relevant
qualitative and indirect evidence and estimates; targeted simulations using plausible alternative data values. Based on all
this, I make the following statements with a high degree of confidence:
volume of HE pro bono engagement is certainly in the range 4 to 42 million hours with the highest probability true value
in the range 30 to 40 million hours.
- The shadow economic value of staff pro bono engagement
is almost certainly in the range £2.7 to £3.7 billion, with a single best estimate approximately equal to the£3.2
billion cited in this report."
note on shadow pricing in the report
It is important
to note that the shadow prices used in the report calculations are based on market consultancy firm charge-out rates, not
consultant salaries. Typically, the charge-out rate is derived from a variant of the following formula:
Charge-out rate = gross consultant labour costs + fully allocated company overheads
+ target company profit margin
consultancy firms, the charge-out rates can easily be more than double the actual salaries paid to consultants. Thus, the
numerical money estimates cited in the report refer to equivalent company gross revenue or "output" values, not
consultant wages/salaries. It is very important to keep this in mind in interpreting the report results and in making comparisons
with other activities, firms, or industries.
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