Universities power the economy: study

Elle Conway
(Australian Associated Press)


Australia’s top universities contribute more than $66 billion to the national economy annually, a new study shows.

A report from London Economics commissioned by the Group of Eight universities examined the economic effect of the unis’ research, graduates, international students and employment.

“It’s the first time we have been able to clearly articulate what we have always known: that universities are economic powerhouses and a valuable investment for taxpayers,” Go8 chief executive Vicki Thomson said.

The report shows that every employee within the Go8 universities creates 2.4 jobs in the wider community.

The Go8 universities enrol about 50,000 commencing international students a year, a number which upholds 73,030 positions, in both the universities and the broader community.

The report also found that every three international students generate a $1 million flow in the economy.

“We always knew that that our research income was a strong positive for the nation. What we did not know was the actual worth,” Ms Thomson said.

“This analysis shows it is extremely high with every $1 delivering almost $10 in benefits in a single year for the private sector.”

Labor education spokeswoman Tanya Plibersek said universities were a “critical” part of the nation.

“It’s a believable figure based on return-on-investment figures we’ve seen in the past,” she said.

“That’s why it’s so tragic that the education minister cut another $2.2 billion just before Christmas from Australian universities without going through the parliament, without giving us the opportunity to make a case not to make those cuts.”

The chair of the Go8 and UNSW Vice-Chancellor Professor Ian Jacobs says the study is proof that funding universities is a necessary investment.

“The scale of the economic benefit explained in the report will surprise some and be of interest to many in government, industry and higher education,” he said.


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