The Republic of Ireland’s higher education institutions contribute €10.6 billion (£7.8 billion) a year to the country’s economy, a new study indicates.
The report by economists from Trinity College Dublin also found that higher education supports 150,000 jobs in the country, with each €1 spent on the sector generating €4 for the Irish economy.
The study, published in the journal Studies in Higher Education, focused on the seven universities and 14 institutes of technology in Ireland where the bulk of private spending and students are located.
Overall expenditure in the sector, not including spending by staff and students, was €2.61 billion in 2010-11, of which €1.45 billion was provided by government sources directly.
Of the €10.6 billion contributed to the economy by the sector, €7.4 billion came from universities and €3.2 billion from institutes of technology.
“Our study had a very narrow economic focus, and asked the question – does the economy receive more than one euro’s worth of economic activity for every euro it spends on higher education in Ireland?”, said Brian Lucey, professor in finance at Trinity Business School and one of the paper’s authors.
“The answer was a resounding yes. Higher education supports 150,000 jobs and generates €10 billion in national income,” he added.
The study calculated that for every job in Irish higher education institutions, seven additional jobs were indirectly supported in the economy, amounting to some 150,000 jobs in the 2010-11 academic year.
With discussions under way about the financial sustainability of Irish higher education and proposals for new funding models, the findings will “contribute to the current national debate about the funding challenges facing the sector in a post-bailout environment”, said Professor Lucey.