Students spend £300m a year in Plymouth, says report

By WILLIAM TELFORD, Business Editor, Herald

  • BIG SPENDERS: Students at Plymouth University are a major part of the city’s economy

 PLYMOUTH’S student population injects a whopping £300million into the city economy every year, new research has found.The 31,654 students living in rented city accommodation or at home spent £33,951,103 every week during their nine-month academic year, in 2013/14.

That equated to £305,559,934 that year.

The study also revealed parents visiting their offspring also spend a significant amount in the city too – a not inconsiderable £3,303,648 each year.

And foreign students bring a £34million bonanza to the city annually.

Plymouth University, Santander bank and Clever Student Lets combined to produce A Report Looking into Student Spending and Analysing the Economic Impact it has on Plymouth.

It is thought to be the first study of its kind carried out and included students studying at Plymouth University, Plymouth College of Art, the University of St Mark and St John and City College Plymouth.

The study cost £5,000 and was conducted by a PhD student at Plymouth University who quizzed more than 300 students about their spending habits, and interviewed businesses too.

It breaks down how many students are living in Plymouth accommodation, and how much they spend, and what they spend it on.

For example, an “average” Plymouth University student spends £7,128 in nine months, with more than half going on accommodation.

That includes £330 spent in the first two weeks in the city.

Plymouth College of Art students spent even more, an average of £8,879, and City College Plymouth students top that at £10,458.

An average Marjon student spends £6,855.

International students spend slightly more than domestic ones, each putting an average £10,448 into the city each academic year.

Even students who live in the family homes spend an average £7,334 each in the city during the academic year.

It all equates to Plymouth University students contributing £206,240,491 in expenditure, Marjon students £19,644,843, City College Plymouth students £9,810,949, PCA students £9,128,963, international students contributed £34,220,180, and those living with their families £26,514,506.

The report notes that the windfall is not spread evenly around the city, with areas such as Mutley and Lipson reaping greater benefits.

Much of the cash has also gone on sectors such as food, entertainment, transport and, most importantly, accommodation.

The report also notes the spin-off benefits for the city, including increased investment and the economic impact of the educational establishments.

The study also raised the issues of declining student numbers and said a 10 per cent drop would result in an annual £30million loss to the city.

Clever Student Lets director Henry Hutchins said the report was commissioned because it was felt many people in Plymouth did not understand the economic benefits students have on the city.

“This report shows the student population is the biggest single spend in the city,” Mr Hutchins said.

He stressed the study had been carried out independently without interference from either the university, Santander or Clever Student Lets.

“It is open and unbiased,” he said. “There was no gain for us in doing this. It’s purely because we feel the students are seriously undervalued and we want people across the city to understand their value.

“So when there is some controversy over a (student accommodation) development people will know the value of what they bring in.”

He said the many student flat developments currently under way in Plymouth were preferable to “empty shops and empty buildings”.

“All I see is negativity around me,” he added. “People talk about students being badly behaved. Maybe during Freshers’ Week, on a couple of nights, things can get a bit silly, but we house 2,000 students and have only had two cause problems.

“Look at the positive side; it outweighs the negative.”

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