SEPTEMBER is an exciting time for us; beginning a new academic year and welcoming a fresh intake of students bursting with potential and enthusiasm. As well as new faces, we enjoy welcoming back existing students - as do many local businesses, for which students make up a significant proportion of their workforce.

This term, York St John University alone will welcome almost 1,600 new students to the city.

Their impact on the local economy – alongside that of students coming to the University of York and the city’s colleges - and the benefits they bring to business should not be underestimated.

A recent study by Higher York - a partnership between Askham Bryan College, the University of York, York College, York St John University, Craven College and City of York Council - found that the total boost to gross local income attributable to the city’s universities was £395 million.

The study looked at students’ financial contribution to the local economy and showed that students spent more than £18 million locally over the 2012/13 academic year.

It also looked at the employment opportunities offered by the city’s educational institutions, which together provided local employment for more than 8,000 people in 2012/13.

Equally important is the wider role that universities and colleges play in attracting inward investment to cities through their work with businesses.

The study showed that conference delegates attending events at the city’s academic institutions spent around £1.8 million on local goods and services while they were here.

The learning and development role that further and higher education institutions play in society sits at the forefront, but dig a little deeper below the surface and the wider contribution they make to the local economy becomes clear. So, as summer draws to a close and people’s thoughts start turning to crisp autumnal mornings and evenings drawing in, for many in the city it is in fact a time for new beginnings, new faces and new opportunities for students, businesses and the city’s economy.