The great universities of Wales are one of our biggest strengths.
From Aberystwyth, where the first Chair of International Politics was established in 1919, to Cardiff University, where there has been ground-breaking work on the causes of asthma, our universities have always led the way.
This history of success is being backed and built on by the European Union. Over the period of 2007-2013 Welsh Universities received £183.4 million for research projects in Wales, an amount that is likely to be exceeded in the 2014-2020 funding period. That's why we cannot afford to see the UK leave the EU in the upcoming referendum.
EU support has helped Welsh Universities to invest in leading facilities and support the brightest minds which has led to ground breaking research. In the recent Research Excellence Framework Review 30% of research from Welsh Universities was judged to be world leading, up from 14% in 2008. This research also has a great impact beyond the walls of our universities, providing a technological edge for our companies, which in turn boosts jobs and growth.
Across Wales there are many university projects that simply wouldn't be possible without EU support. The EU invested almost £100 million pounds in the new Swansea University Science and Innovation campus; this will provide a cutting edge research facility that will work with local businesses to give them a real advantage in the market.
In Aberystwyth, the new Innovation and Diffusion campus is being underwritten by £20 million worth of E.U. Funding. This campus will generate research designed to help businesses succeed. These companies will boost the Welsh economy. A similar goal is being pursued in Bangor where the Menai Science Park will provide environmental and I.T. research that will develop links with businesses to help commercialise research. And in Cardiff, researchers will use the new state of the art CUBRIC centre to study the brain and help deal with brain damage and illness, again underwritten by £4.5 million of E.U. funding. E.U. students also contribute £24.1 million to our universities through tuition fees and other payments; they also spent over £70.9 million off campus in our shops and businesses. These students would find it much harder to come to Wales if we were outside of the E.U.
In Wales we have always known the value of good education. In the late 19th Century, miners in Bangor pooled their earnings to help set up Bangor University. They understood, as we do now, that our Universities are not separate from our communities, but a part of them, the success of one impacts on the other. The E.U. backed success of Welsh Universities generated £4.6 billion for the Welsh economy and generated 46,554 jobs in 2013-2014 alone. Welsh Universities are being empowered by the E.U. and they in turn are empowering our communities.
Our universities are thriving because of the backing that they have received from the EU if we vote to leave, our universities will suffer, meaning a poorer education for people from our communities who go on to higher education and less money for our world class research. This in turn means universities will be able to contribute less to our communities. We cannot forget what the Bangor miners knew, that education is the key to our future.
We cannot let our brightest lights go out.