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Our social, economic and cultural impact

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sbarc|spark tackles humanity’s biggest challenges. The centre brings together social science researchers, entrepreneurs, student start-ups and University spinouts to create, test and incubate new ideas that help us all lead happier, healthier lives.

Cardiff University makes a significant contribution to the UK economy.

We attract high-quality investment from both the public and private sector which translates our world-leading research into the products, services and processes of the future.

Our excellence in teaching and learning provides highly skilled and well-paid graduates who make a significant contribution to the public purse when they enter the world of work.

We have invested in people, partnerships and places. Our biggest campus upgrade for a generation includes a bespoke Centre for Student Life, investment in two new hubs on Cardiff Innovation Campus, and Abacws – a new home for the Schools of Mathematics and Computer Science.

Analysis of Cardiff University’s economic impact for the 2020/21 academic year shows:

  • We contribute £3.7 billion to the UK economy
  • Almost 1 in 135 jobs in Wales depends on us
  • We generate £6.40 for every £1 we spend

We are a truly global university. International students contribute significantly to the UK economy during their time in the city. We are one of Wales’s largest employers, with a staff and student community made up of over 35,000 people. The University supports 14,000 jobs across the UK.

Cardiff University is deeply rooted in the local community and proactively engages with the public to help improve health, wealth and wellbeing in Wales, across the UK and around the world.

Teaching and learning

We provide a high-quality and inspiring educational journey which enriches students’ lives and prepares them for the world of work. From journalism students honing their craft in a state-of-the-art centre next to BBC Wales to postgraduates working with industry on cyber security in the high-tech labs of Abacws, we provide an innovative learning experience for our students.

£1.2 billion is added to the UK economy as a result of Cardiff University’s teaching and learning activities

Over 33,500 students from 148 countries are enrolled at Cardiff University – nearly half (48%) of UK students come from Wales. 96% of graduates enter employment, further study or both shortly after graduating (Destination of Leavers from Higher Education 2016/17).

Research and knowledge exchange

We strive to produce research that matters to make a real difference to people’s lives all over the world, tackling some of the biggest problems facing society, the economy and our environment. In the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2021 90% of our research was found to be officially world-leading or internationally excellent.

Whether shaping debate in Welsh politics, fighting cybercrime or improving clinical care in Wales, our research builds bridges and creates economic and social growth.

£831 million was added to the UK economy in 2020-21 as a result of Cardiff University research and knowledge exchange

For every £1m million invested in Cardiff University research (excluding knowledge exchange activities), £4.89 million is generated for UK companies. There are 426 patents held by Cardiff University and £59 million is generated through 164 active spinouts and staff and student start-ups, which support 1,285 full-time jobs (665 of which are in Wales).


Cardiff University is a truly global university with a thriving international student community and active partnerships with more than 200 institutions worldwide. Partnerships with major international universities increase our research collaborations, offering students the chance to undertake joint PhDs, and creating opportunities for student and staff mobility.

During 2020/21, Cardiff was entrusted with hosting and co-developing the Welsh Government’s International Learning Exchange Programme (ILEP), receiving investment of £65m, running from 2022 to 2026.

ILEP will ensure students benefit from international exchanges similar to opportunities that flowed from Erasmus+, not just in Europe but further afield.

During this time, it is hoped some 15,000 participants from Wales will go on overseas mobility exchanges, with 10,000 participants coming to study or work in Wales.

  • 7,530 international students from 122 different countries
  • £655m is added to the economy as a result of our international students
  • 180,000 alumni across the globe from over 180 different countries

Improving lives

Our lifeblood is Wales. We take pride and responsibility in maintaining a socially and culturally diverse community throughout Wales.

In 2020/21, we were shocked and saddened to lose much-loved friends and colleagues to COVID-19. Whilst the pandemic cast a long shadow over the year, the response from academic colleagues was extraordinary.

Our researchers explored potential vaccines for COVID-19, tracking the spread of the virus, and examining the impact of the pandemic on mental health. Colleagues launched the Cardiff University Screening Service - an overwhelming success that allowed staff and students to take tests when coming to campus.

Our Civic Mission projects continued to shape our neighbourhoods. In 2020/21, we transformed our city's former Grangetown bowls pavilion into a thriving £2m community centre - the culmination of a six-year partnership between Cardiff University’s Community Gateway project and resident groups Grange Pavilion Project and Grangetown Community Action. Since then, we have supported flagship projects boosting green social prescribing in Abercynon, and the development of a Children’s University in Cardiff.

During the pandemic, we teamed up with award-winning charity Teen Tech to provide a month’s worth of live online digital, science and technology events to children in schools and at home across Wales.

  • 7,000 staff are employed by Cardiff University, creating a further 7000 jobs
  • 10,000 jobs are based in Wales
  • First university in the UK to be named a ‘Living Wage Champion’

The economic and social impact of Cardiff University in 2020-21 (October 2022)

View the report produced by London Economics on our social and economic impact.