The CBI has called for employers to make the most of university consultancy services and research facilities to strengthen UK competitiveness.
In 2006-07, companies paid more than £2.5bn for higher education institutions to help solve business problems, carry out surveys or provide equipment to train staff, a report out last week showed.
CBI director-general Richard Lambert welcomed the figures from the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills and the Higher Education Funding Council for England – and called for greater collaboration.
“A strong relationship between the sectors is critical to helping the UK maintain competitiveness. And both sides can benefit – businesses from new thinking and high-quality graduates universities from practical insights that enrich their teaching and research, as well as from much needed funding.
“There is scope for even greater interaction between academia and business in the UK.”
Science and innovation minister Ian Pearson said working with universities enabled businesses to improve their performances and compete globally. Meanwhile, Higher Education Funding Council has awarded Cambridge-based Anglia Ruskin University £5.6m to train work-based staff to degree-level.
It is one of the largest sums offered to universities under the council’s employer engagement strategy, developed in response to the 2006 Leitch Review, which warned that the UK needed to ramp up skill levels to compete with China and India.