Strategic Research Programme 2011-2016: economic impact

Assessment of the economic impacts generated by the Rural and Environment Science and Analytical Services Division's research programme.

11 Research Training

The 2011-16 SRP funding also enabled the MRPs to train PhD students, who will be future generations of researchers, by allowing staff members to devote time and resources towards mentoring and developing them. In addition, MRPs are able to have access to the latest tools, techniques and databases, which young researchers can learn to use.

Once they have entered the labour market the skill and approach that these researchers will have developed provide them with the ability to contribute more productively to future employers, and to generate greater value in the economy than they may otherwise have been able to. This additional productivity will predominantly be represented by additional remuneration accruing to the researchers, and the additional profits generated by employers.

The additional profit that graduate employers can expect to generate is not a subject that has been well researched but information on the earnings premium that graduates receive is readily available, and can be used to provide a measure of the economic contribution that graduates make to the economy each year.

The graduate earnings premium was the subject of a research paper published by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills in 2011, [32] which analysed Labour Force Survey data covering the period 1996-2009. Although the primary focus of the research was the earnings premium of undergraduates, it also considered postgraduates, comparing their after-tax earnings to undergraduates. The direct and indirect costs were then subtracted from the graduate premium for each degree to give the net graduate premium.

The study found that the completion of a PhD was associated with a lifetime earnings premium of £62,395 compared to an undergraduate, and that completion of a Masters degree was associated with a premium of £55,720 compared to an undergraduate. As an estimated 39% of PhD students have previously completed a Masters degree [33] the additional premium associated with completing a PhD was estimated at £6,675.

By applying this assumption to data provided by the Scottish Government on the number of PhD students supported it was estimated that the researcher training supported by the 2011-16 SRP funding generated a productivity benefit of around £1.3 million in Scotland, and £2.0 million in the UK. In 2016, researcher training was estimated to support a productivity benefit of £0.2 million in Scotland, and £0.3 million in the UK.

Table 11‑1: Annual impact of research training

Scotland UK
Total GVA (£m) 0.2 0.3

Source: BiGGAR Economics

This benefit will be generated over the course of the researchers working lives and will therefore help to increase the annual value associated with the 2011-16 SRP in the future.


Email: Eilidh Totten,

Phone: 0300 244 4000 – Central Enquiry Unit

The Scottish Government
St Andrew's House
Regent Road

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