Australia’s Group of Eight universities contributed $66.4 billion to the national economy in a single year through the flow on effects of their research, graduates, international students and employment, a new report has found.
The report from London Economics also reveals that for every $1 spent on research, around $10 came back in benefits to the private sector.
It found that for every person employed in Go8 universities, 2.4 jobs were created in the broader community and that for every three international students studying at a Go8 institution, there was $1 million flow on effects in the economy.
“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,” says Go8 Chief Executive Vicki Thomson.
“We always knew, for example, that our research income was a strong positive for the nation. What we did not know was the actual worth. This analysis shows it is extremely high with every $1 delivering almost $10 in benefits in a single year for the private sector.”
Professor Ian Jacobs, Chair of the Go8 and UNSW Vice-Chancellor says the report is further evidence that funding for our universities is not a burden or a charitable donation. “It is a wise investment in the future of the nation which yields substantial economic return alongside many other benefits for the people of Australia. 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”.
Professor Dawn Freshwater, Go8 Deputy Chair and Vice Chancellor of the University of Western Australia says every day, students and staff at universities around the world are working towards a common goal – the betterment of humanity. “Today’s report means that Australia can feel confident that we are achieving that common goal.”
Ms Thomson says the Go8 enrols around 50,000 commencing international students each year which supports 73,030 jobs both in universities and throughout the wider economy. “The findings are a solid affirmation of the Go8’s economic value both in research and as an educator of quality students and more than amply justifies the federal government’s $6.7 billion investment in teaching and research at Go8 universities.”
“The report supports the long-time Go8 assertion that Government policy formulation must value universities as generators of economic strength and wealth – as Australia’s competitor nations do – and not as a drain on taxpayers.”
Ms Thomson said Australian universities need to redouble their efforts to reach the community “and sell our message”.
“The fact is everyone’s lives are touched by the work of universities, even if they didn’t go to one: by the professionals such as teachers, social workers, doctors, lawyers and engineers who keep society ticking; by advancements in science, medicine, technology and public policy; by the outreach and engagement activities that connect to local schools and communities.
“While the direct and indirect economic impact of all of this has been valued at $66.4 billion a year, we know there is an equally important non-financial impact in the community as a result of universities’ work”