Report: A euro invested in universities produces 5 euros in return to economy

A report evaluating universities’ economic impact highlights the importance of art in supporting Finland’s appeal and economic growth. 

All 14 universities in Finland, including the University of the Arts Helsinki (Uniarts Helsinki), have been evaluated in terms of their economic impact. According to a study conducted by the Scottish consultancy BiGGAR Economics, a euro invested in the Finnish universities produces, on average, EUR 5.26 to the Finnish economy. For each euro directed at Uniarts Helsinki’s operations, there was a total contribution of almost EUR 4.0 gross added value to the Finnish economy.

The study estimates that Uniarts Helsinki generated a total economic contribution of EUR 179 million within a year in Finland. The university generates directly or indirectly a total of 2,500 jobs. In addition to providing direct economic effects, the report underlines the role of art and culture, in particular, in maintaining Finland’s appeal and economic growth.

The report points out that universities have a big impact on art and culture. Although it’s not straightforward to measure these effects, there is an increasing number of scientific studies on the connections between art, culture, health and well-being. Research has shown that active engagement in the arts can prevent exclusion, build better mental health, enhance quality of life and functional mobility, and even prolong life expectancy, as listed in the report.

Art and culture have a central role to play in making Finland an attractive environment on a global scale when businesses choose where to invest or when individual people choose where to live, work or visit. Therefore, they also contribute to economic growth.

The evaluation states that the main sources of impact generating economic effects are the core activities of the universities, the students’ activities, the business and innovation support that the universities provide, and the so-called graduate premium, which means that an individual with a degree will generally earn more over the course of their working life than one who has not been to university. Other factors generating economic effects include tourism, for example.

According to the report, Finnish universities produce EUR 14.2 billion gross added value for the Finnish economy, and their activities support around 136,000 jobs in Finland. This corresponds to 6.6% of the Finnish economic output, and 5.5% of total employment in Finland. A euro invested in the Finnish universities produces directly or indirectly an average of EUR 5.26 gross added value to the Finnish economy.

BiGGAR Economics Ltd has previously done similar evaluations in United Kingdom and other parts of Europe. The report was commissioned by the Confederation of Unions for Professional and Managerial Staff in Finland, Confederation of Finnish Industries, Association of Finnish Independent Education Employers, and National Union of University Students in Finland. All Finnish universities participated in the evaluation, and it was carried out in spring 2017. 

The evaluation report is available at www.unifi.fi/taloudellisetvaikutukset.