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Concordia major contributor to economy

University generates $1.3 billion of economic impact, study shows
February 7, 2012
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By Tom Peacock

A new study by consulting firm SECOR shows that Concordia University is a major economic contributor in the community. The broad-reaching, independent study found that Concordia is responsible for contributing $1.3 billion of economic impact, creating jobs and adding to Quebec’s productivity, competitiveness, capacity for innovation, and pool of human capital.

The amount of wealth generated by the university is equal to three times its annual operating budget. Few institutions, whether public or private, can claim such a leverage effect, SECOR claims.

Associate Vice-President, External Relations, Russell Copeman says the study was commissioned to help dispel the popular notion that post-secondary institutions are a drain on public funds.

“We wanted to have a rigorous and credible study done that would demonstrate that in fact, Concordia is not a net expense to society and to the government, but is a generator of economic wealth,” he says. “Funding post-secondary institutions is a collective investment in our future social, economic, and cultural well-being.” 

The consulting firm crunched the data submitted by the university and came up with many of impressive numbers. Its report states that the 90,000 Concordia graduates working in Quebec boosted productivity by $623 million in 2010.

SECOR calculates that spending by the university and its out-of-province students and visitors generates $464 million in economic revenue, which in turn creates and maintains more than 7,000 direct jobs.

The research produced and disseminated by the university adds $177 million to the economy annually, according to the report. As well, 20 per cent of the funding for research conducted at the university comes from sources outside the province. In 2010, this external research funding amounted to $27 million; double what it was a decade earlier.

The report, Concordia: Une université en osmose avec son milieu (Concordia: An Economic Force Connected to its Community), will be available for consultation. In addition to listing the university’s economic contributions, the report details Concordia’s myriad benefits to the social, cultural and community fabric of Montreal and Quebec.

“We are part and parcel of the fabric of Montreal,” Copeman says. “This is demonstrated by our infrastructure, our commitment to responsible and sustainable urban development, our co-op programs, our students’ involvement in the city’s social and economic development, by the programs we run for the general population, and by our public art. It’s manifested in many, many ways.”

In terms of its infrastructure, Concordia has invested close to $600 million over the past decade transforming both its campuses. This spending has helped to revitalize both the Quartier Concordia downtown and Montreal’s west end. As well, the daily presence of the university’s 45,000 students and 7,000 faculty and staff provides a significant boost to shops and restaurants.

The report also reveals the diversity of Concordia’s student population. The university has more permanent residents from abroad than any other university in Quebec, and the second highest number of foreign students. It attracts 8,700 students from the rest of Canada and outside the country.

“We pride ourselves on being an accessible university, not only to part-time students (among Quebec universities, Concordia has the highest number of part-time students) but also to some groups in society for whom accessibility to post-secondary education is more difficult,” Copeman says. “That portrait is reinforced and comes out more clearly in the SECOR report.”

Copeman says the report will serve as a valuable tool for leveraging support for the university from government decision makers as well as stakeholders in the business community and in not-for-profit organizations.

“Other Canadian universities have found it useful to have a third-party study —  a credible independent study —  that demonstrates the value to society of post-secondary education, of university education, and of their particular institution.”

Related links:
•  Concordia: an Economic Force Connected to its Community [pdf]
•  Concordia: une université en osmose avec son milieu [pdf]
•  Office of the Vice-President, Institutional Relations and Secretary General 
•  SECOR



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