The higher education sector contributed 2.8 percent of British GDP in 2011, according to the latest report published on Thursday.
In the academic year 2011/2012, universities generated over 73 billion pounds (121 billion U.S. dollars) of output, 24 percent higher than the 59 billion pounds in 2009, said Universities UK, an advocacy organization for universities in Britain.
The report provided new figures following a similar study in 2009.
"These findings demonstrate that higher education is a significant sector of economic activity in its own right," said Christopher Snowden, President of Universities UK.
Higher education generated more output than many other sectors, including advertising and market research, legal services, computer manufacturing, basic pharmaceuticals, and air transport, according to the report.
Universities also generated more GDP per unit of expenditure than many other sectors including health, public administration, and construction, the report said.
"Universities are at the heart of the economy, delivering ground-breaking research, attracting talent to these shores and playing their part to equip young people with the skills the UK needs for the future," said Neil Carberry, director for employment and skills of the Confederation of British Industry.