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Report reveals UCC’s local and national impact

Wednesday, 10th April, 2019 4:39pm

13,921 Cork students are enrolled in third level institutions in Ireland, according to a new report.

Carried out by Indecon on behalf of the Irish Universities Association (IUA), the report found that Ireland’s seven universities benefitted the Irish economy by €8.9 billion last year. It is the first ever socio-economic impact research undertaken on the role universities play in the economy and society.

The impact study revealed the true impact universities have in a range of areas including research, society, the economy - including the benefits arising from international students - and individuals.

It also found that UCC has a major cultural and economic impact both locally and nationally. UCC’s contemporary art museum, the Glucksman had over 10,000 active participants in its education and events programme in 2017 and in 2017 was the first museum in Munster to receive full accreditation on the Museum Standards Programme for Ireland.

Other findings from the report include:

- The seven universities contribute a total of €8.9 billion to the economy annually

- In 2017 over 120,000 students enrolled, up 50 per cent from 2000

- More than two million visitors attended events or attractions located in or run by Irish universities in 2017

- Indecon have identified a cumulative net gain to the Exchequer of €1,606 million in net present value terms based on the lifetime net earnings projections for the 2017 – 2018 cohort of new entrants to the seven universities. This is based on a net gain to the Exchequer from the lifetime earnings of individual undergraduate degree holders of €62,000

- Irish universities make a total research impact of €1.5 billion to the economy. This breaks down into €632 million from direct research expenditure, €373 million spill-over impact of university-based research on the wider economy, and €526 million from indirect and induced effects

- In 2017 – 2018 there were 16,701 full-time international students living in Ireland. Indecon estimated that the total annual export income generated for the Irish economy from International students at €386 million

The report provides further detail on the social and cultural impacts of Irish universities along with supporting 22,000 jobs, both directly and indirectly.

“There has been much debate over the economic return university education generates in Ireland without any rigorous scientific analysis of the actual impacts,” said Brian MacCraith, Chair of the Irish Universities Association.

“This vacuum has not served the debate well. What is certain from the report is the significant positive impact Irish universities are having, from the €8.89 billion contributed annually to the Irish economy to the 21,801 full-time jobs supported, including 15,724 directly employed.

“The 50 per cent increase in student enrolments since 2000 is a precursor to an even greater demographic bubble which will place an intolerable strain on the already under-resourced university system. Unless the Government and the broader political community are prepared to deliver a sustainable core funding solution, the opportunities afforded to today’s students may be curtailed for many current and future primary and secondary students. As a society, we cannot let this happen,” he added.

Jim Miley, Director General of the IUA said: “The role of universities is to produce well-rounded, employable graduates and to provide centres of innovation through their research work. The Indecon report shows for the first time that, universities not only do that but also generate a cash surplus for the State over the long-term.

“This surely provides a compelling case for the Government and the Oireachtas to prioritise the reform of the funding model for higher education.

“Next Sunday will mark the 1,000th day since the Cassells Report, the Government-appointed expert group, identified the scale of the funding gap for higher education and made clear recommendations about dealing with it. The Indecon Report shows that more State investment in university education isn’t just the right thing to do; it’s the profitable thing to do.”

Alan Gray, MD of Indecon said: “This analysis is the first of its kind in Ireland. Indecon undertook a rigorous evidence-based examination on the full range of impacts of Irish universities on the Irish economy and society generally.

“Ireland has a more highly educated population than the EU average which is often cited as a key reason both multinational organisations and indigenous enterprises base operations here.”

The Irish Universities Association represents UCC, UCC, Dublin City University, Maynooth University, NUI Galway, Trinity College Dublin and University of Limerick.

The report is available at

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