Every three international students at Australia’s most prestigious universities contribute more than $1 million to the nation’s economy, according to new research.
Australia’s Group of 8 Universities, comprising the nation’s top institutions of higher learning, released a study into their economic impact this week, which found they contributed more than $66 billion to the national economy in the 2016 academic year.
Over the same time period, it cost $12.4 billion to operate the Go8, which includes Monash University, The University of Western Australia, The University of Adelaide, The University of Queensland, The University of Melbourne, UNSW Sydney and the University of Sydney.
The analysis, by London Economics, found educational exports generated $17.98 billion in economic contributions, comprising tuition fees and living expenses for the 53,895 international students enrolled at Go8 universities in 2016.
Those 53,000-plus international students supported 70,030 jobs throughout Australia, with 43,700 supported by tuition fees, London Economics said.
The total economic impact generated by overseas students was estimated to be $424,000 for each student studying a bachelor’s degree, and $312,000 per graduate student.
Go8 chair Ian Jacobs said the report showed the vast benefits of the Australian government’s funding commitments to the university sector.
“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,” Professor Jacobs said.
London Economics also found that for every $1 spent on research, around $10 returned to the private sector.
Go8 chief executive Vicki Thomson said the report’s findings were a solid affirmation of the economic value of the country’s top educational institutions, to which the federal government contributed $6.7 billion in 2016.
“The report supports the long-time Go8 assertion that government policy formation 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.
“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 the universities’ work.”