University boosts Dunedin's economy by $780.8m

By Vaughan Elder

Photo / Ross Setford
Photo / Ross Setford

The University of Otago boosted Dunedin's economy by $780.8 million last year, a new report shows.

This figure equated to about 16 per cent of Dunedin's gross domestic product (GDP) and generated almost 17,000 full-time equivalent jobs in Dunedin, or about 34 per cent of the city's workforce.

The university's economic impact report for last year showed the total expenditure of its campuses in Dunedin, Christchurch, Wellington, Auckland and Invercargill was $1.66 billion.

Of that, $1.43 billion was generated by the university's activities in Dunedin, with $780.8 million calculated to have remained in the city's economy, a slight increase on 2011 when the boost to the city was put at $779.33 million.

The report took into account both direct spending by the university, its staff and students, as well as "downstream effects" on the rest of the economy.

Vice-chancellor Professor Harlene Hayne said the report underscored how significant the university was to Dunedin's economy and to other cities where it had a presence.

"This report highlights that the university is more than a facility to benefit students, staff and society through the very high standard of our teaching, research and graduates, but it also plays a fundamental role in the ongoing vitality of Dunedin's economy in particular," Professor Hayne said.

Otago Chamber of Commerce chief executive John Christie said the figures showed just how "far-reaching" the university's impact on the city was.

There was no reason to be alarmed about the city being over-reliant on the university, but "ideally we would like to see more growth in other sectors to even up that perceived imbalance", Mr Christie said.

The report said the university's activities contributed $45.1 million to the Christchurch economy, $41.9 million to Wellington, $3 million to Invercargill and $700,000 to Auckland.

- Otago Daily Times

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