Study shows U of R contributes half-billion to Sask. economy

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Photo - Brett Nielsen

Photo – Brett Nielsen

… still not as much as U of S though

The University of Regina’s economic impact now exceeds half a billion dollars, according to a study by Economic Development Regina Inc. Released in January, the study details the contributions of the University to the economies of both Regina and Saskatchewan.

“With a budget of almost $300 million, a staff complement of 2,995, and a student

population of 14,360,” reads the report’s executive summary, “the University is a key player in the Regina and provincial economies.”

“Its total Gross Domestic Product (GDP) impact is estimated at $408 million for Regina and $542 million for the province. The University is responsible for generating more than 4,500 jobs and accounts for roughly 3 per cent of the total regional economy.”

According to the study, the U of R is responsible for roughly the same economic impact as a 10,000-person city (think Weyburn or Estevan).

The College Avenue Renewal Project, which has been described as “the University’s number one capital priority” is expected to create 100 new jobs alone, and contributes $18 million in GDP annually. On Jan. 12, the University put out a call seeking partners to lease and develop portions of the College Ave. Campus, in an effort to help fund the $50-60 million restoration project.

The study determined the University’s GDP impact by “assess[ing] the impact of the University in quantifiable terms.” For this particular study, that meant adding up the impacts of day-to-day operations, student spending, and the impact of convocations and conferences hosted by the University.

On Jan. 21, U of R President and Vice-Chancellor Dr. Vianne Timmons presented the study as part of her State of the University Address to the Regina and District Chamber of Commerce. Timmons stated that the U of R’s priorities were student success, impactful research, and “to serve our diverse communities.”

“This study shows that the economic impact of these activities is significant,” continued Timmons, “leading to more than half a billion dollars in economic activity, lower unemployment rates, greater earnings, and a more productive and innovative economy.”

Although the study does outline the positive economic impacts of U of R, when viewed in broader context, the results still reveal some shortcomings. A similar study found that the University of Saskatchewan’s economic impact in the province was $1.2 billion, more than double that of the U of R. Even after correcting for enrollment numbers, U of R is significantly behind, with an economic impact of $37,743 per student to the provincial economy, compared to $50,420 per U of S student.

While both studies were similar, the U of S study notably also contained a section entitled “recommendations.” This portion was missing from the much more congratulatory U of R report, which instead concludes with research highlights, alumni profiles, and a summary of the College Avenue Renewal Project.

The study highlighted other indicators of continued growth at the U of R, including a rise in enrollment of 21 per cent since 2009, increases in student spending, and greater enrollment of both international and Aboriginal students (who account for 13.7 and 11.6 per cent of the student body respectively).

 

The full results and methodology of the study can be read at: http://www.uregina.ca/orp/assets/projects-presentations/u-of-r-economic-impact-study-2014-15.pdf

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