The University of Wollongong (UOW) continues to provide economic leadership in growing and supporting a vibrant, prosperous and globally competitive region, a detailed economic impact report released today demonstrates.
The report, Leading Locally, Competing Globally: Measuring the University of Wollongong’s Contribution to Economic and Social Prosperity in the Illawarra and beyond, highlights that UOW activities make a $1.21 billion contribution to the national economy, up from $1.19 billion in 2011 in real terms.
UOW’s total economic contribution to national gross domestic product (GDP) in 2015 was $1.2 billion, while the various activities related to UOW’s operations help generate $2.2 billion in gross output annually.
In addition to direct economic impacts, the report highlights the University’s broader contributions to Australia through research and innovation; supporting the creation of new industries and new jobs; developing the knowledge and skills of staff and students; and enhancing the social and cultural life of the Illawarra region.
The analysis is based on 2015 calendar year financial data and follows a similar study based on 2011 data. This is the second comprehensive assessment of the University’s economic and social contribution to the regional economy and the Australian community more generally.
The report captures UOW’s major contributions in helping the Illawarra transition from traditional manufacturing activity to advanced manufacturing, education and IT sectors.
The direct economic impact of UOW activities on the Illawarra region has grown by 7.7 per cent to $573 million in 2015, driven by the significant increase in total wages paid by the university.
This increase is, in part, being funded through innovative financial models, such as the long-term licence agreement with a private operator to construct and manage student accommodation, which has unlocked capital that has enabled the university to invest in people, infrastructure and equipment needed to undertake impact-driven research.
Recently, UOW celebrated the 10-year anniversary of the start of work at the Innovation Campus, which has since transformed into an economic driver contributing $195 million to the Illawarra economy each year and supporting the equivalent of 501 full-time jobs.
The Innovation Campus supports leading national and international researchers and students engaged in transforming new ideas into new products and services.
The process of transforming innovative ideas into commercial products and services is a core ingredient of maintaining prosperity and diversifying the local economy.
For the first time, the report also captures the value of social contributions, such as volunteering, that UOW staff and students make to society that are less tangible and more difficult to measure in monetary terms.
More than 40 per cent of UOW staff and students reported being involved in a form of unpaid voluntary work in 2015.
UOW Vice-Chancellor Professor Paul Wellings CBE said the survival and success of local economies was being increasingly drawn to universities as the source of a skilled workforce and new ideas.
“This new economic impact report confirms that we continue to make a significant impact to regional, state and national economies through activities that are aimed at meeting the needs of an increasingly knowledge and innovation-driven society,” he said.
“The changing structure of employment in the region over the past 30 years shows the growing importance of UOW’s role as a developer of skilled human capital in the region.
“The coming period offers major opportunities for us to continue to evolve Wollongong from a steel, mining and manufacturing city towards also being a diverse, highly skilled and globally competitive university city.”