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The economic contribution of the University of New South Wales

Universities play a vital role in the Australian economy – supporting economic growth and productivity through their operations, educating skilled graduates, and through the translation and commercialisation of academic research, to unlock a breadth of economic and social benefits. This report by Deloitte Access Economics examines and quantifies a diverse set of economic contributions by the University of New South Wales across four domains: (i) Economic activity and employment, (ii) Skilled graduates, (iii) Research activity, and (iv) Enabling innovation and resilience.

In 2021, the University of New South Wales (the University, UNSW) awarded degrees to 8,000 graduates of undergraduate programs, and 4,200 graduates of postgraduate programs. 

Equipped with new skills to meet the needs of industry, these graduates will play a major role in supporting Australia’s productivity growth in a period of economic recovery. 

Reflecting the wage increases attributable to workers’ higher qualifications, the higher tax revenues associated with these earnings and the productivity spillovers of employing higher skilled workers, the University's 12,200 graduates in 2021 are expected to generate $473 million in public and private benefits each year of their working lives. 

The University’s economic contribution is also realised through research, discovery, translation and commercialisation.

This report finds that every $1 invested in higher education research and development is linked to a $5 return to GDP. Researchers across a diversity of disciplines undertake applied research to tackle some of Australia’s and the world’s most pressing social problems – from climate change to pandemic management to social inclusion and wellbeing. 

Across teaching and research, the University makes an enduring contribution to the communities, precincts and industries that are its collaboration partners.

With a central campus in Sydney, smaller campuses elsewhere across Sydney and around NSW, and a major campus in Canberra, the University’s operations drive local employment and economic activity across these regions. Supporting 15,800 academic and professional jobs, the University contributed $2.8 billion in economic activity to the Australian economy in 2019.

As a public institution, the University contributes to the nation’s economic resilience, connects Australia to leading global economies and generates valuable public knowledge. 

These contributions are critical to support Australia’s economic sophistication, its advancement as a knowledge economy and its overall maturity and resilience. 

This report outlines and quantifies a diverse set of economic contributions made by the University of New South Wales, across four domains: 

  • Economic activity and employment: The economic contribution of the University through its operations
  • Skilled graduates: The contribution of individual skilled graduates which the University’s teaching and training enables
  • Research activity: The economic and social contributions of research activities supported by the University
  • Enabling innovation and resilience: The various means by which the University’s activities support the sophistication of the national economy.

Published: April, 2023

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