Universities in the North East of England are producing graduates that are going on to give the economy a real cash boost.

A new study by thinktank million+ has published a report that shows £1.4 billion is being pumped into the regional economy, thanks to its graduates.

The report looks at the differences in the UK’s regional growth and suggests that economic growth is not found outside of the capital. A separate study also found that many of the region’s biggest employers are recruiting fewer graduates.

However, million+ found that 80% of graduates working in the North East also studied at one of the region’s universities. As such, it estimates that these graduates are adding around £1.4 billion to the economy.

Rachel Wenstone, NUS vice president (higher education), said: “Universities and colleges have always been key drivers in their communities and they should be central in helping to tackle regional unemployment and underemployment, and to help boost social growth and capital.”

In order to continue attracting local graduates, million+ wants the government to help increase student numbers and university funding by adapting its policies.

Some proposals include setting regional targets for the number of students with high-level qualifications, creating an additional 50,000 postgraduate places, offering funding to universities lacking in public research investment to meet the needs of employers, and review Local Enterprise Partnerships.

Professor Michael Gunn chair of million+ said: “Universities have long been recognised as key economic, social and cultural powerhouses in their localities and they should be centre-stage in a new strategy for the regions.”

He added: “This report uses new economic modelling which confirms that graduates add real value to the regions in which they study.”

However, with the number of available opportunities for North East graduates falling by 45% in just 12 months, it’s important that “regional recovery is generated in the most effective way.”