The final figure underlining the University of Victoria’s annual impact on B.C.’s economy was higher than Tony Eder expected.
As the university’s director of institutional planning and analysis, his office conducted the research and crunched the numbers to come up with an estimated $3.2-billion figure.
“It’s larger than we’ve seen in the past. Part of that is due to the extraordinary contribution of our university graduates and the way they spend their income in the province of B.C.,” Eder said. “But it’s also the importance of research. We always knew it was very important, but the magnitude of close to a billion dollars surprised us and impressed us.”
UVic’s yearly economic impact was revealed in a report released Monday.
The figure was broken down into five categories: direct spending by UVic; student spending; visitor spending; increased income resulting from higher education; and impact of UVic research.
“It’s important every now and again to step back and take a look at the numbers to get a sense of what is the economic impact of having a university like ours in this region, and you can see it’s extremely significant,” said David Turpin, president of UVic.
Direct spending by the university accounts for $585 million annually. Student spending was calculated at $177 million, with visitor spending at $135 million.
Annually, the impact of UVic education of salaries in B.C. is estimated to be $1.27 billion. The impact of UVic research, development and innovation is estimated at $994 million.
Bruce Carter, CEO of the Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce, said direct spending from the university, students and visitors – a combined $897 million – has the greatest impact on Greater Victoria’s economy. UVic is a significant local economic driver, he said, comparable to tourism, shipbuilding and high-tech.
“When I describe (Victoria’s) economy, I say ‘We’ve got a tech sector worth roughly $2.6 billion, we’ve got a tourism sector north of $1.5 billion. Then we’ve got an eduction, and shipbuilding and repair sector that are both around $1 billion,” Carter said.
“(UVic is) a significant community force whose cultural, community and economic impacts go far beyond the campus boundaries,” Carter added.
“(The study) shows the absolute vital role that the University of Victoria plays in keeping our economy strong, vibrant and innovate; $3.2 billion in direct and indirect economy activity – that is remarkable,” said Victoria Mayor Dean Fortin.
“Clearly we are a university town. If you have any doubts, come on down on Thursday or Friday night downtown,” he joked.
Eder and his colleagues looked at other universities in the province to compare the numbers.
The University of British Columbia, as a much larger institution, has a greater impact on the economy, Edar said, but UVic and Simon Fraser University, which are of comparable sizes, have similar economic impacts.
The university’s economic impact in 1963-64, after its first full year in operation, was $6.3 million.
“What the study shows is that as a medium-sized institution, we punch quite high above our weight,” Eder said.
A full copy of the report can be found online at bit.ly/Ua4DDs.