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JCU's half billion dollar plus impact

JCU's economic impact on Queensland is worth almost $600 million dollars according to an independent report.

James Cook University’s economic impact on Queensland is worth almost $600 million dollars according to an independent report.

More than 90 per cent of the impact is felt in the Cairns and Townsville regions.

The University commissioned the Western Research Institute to assess its contribution to the economies of the northern Queensland for 2012.  Compared with the impact assessed in a similar report in 2009 it shows that in the intervening four years it has increased by more than 20%.

The economic impact of JCU is far greater than its annual expenditure in its operations, expenditure of staff and students and includes the substantial and concrete impacts from its research.

“Arguably,” the report says, “its (JCU’s) greatest contribution is to human capital which provides a very large and substantial boost to the economy and wellbeing of Queensland.

“Universities are crucial in developing human capital, especially in regional areas. The presence of graduates in a region demonstrably contributes higher wages and lower unemployment rates, and provides a more educated and productive workforce.

“Ultimately, this contribution to human capital is an important catalyst for growth, economic activity and well-being in regional areas,” the report says.

The report records that more than 4800 full time equivalent jobs were created either directly or indirectly and only 40 per cent of these were at the university itself.

The key sectors in terms of FTE employment at the state level include retail trade, hospitality, and health and community Services.  In the Cairns LGA it is retail trade, hospitality and construction, while in Townsville it is retail trade, health and community services and hospitality.

“The ongoing graduation of students from JCU,” the report says, “creates a pipeline of human capital supporting the region’s economic development and sustainability into the future.”

It estimates that the annualised human capital impact of the 2011 cohort of graduates is $70.6 million annually with a total impact over a lifetime of work of $1.16 billion.

Since 2009, the university has invested $477 million in completed and future building and infrastructure projects across both campuses.

JCU’s Vice Chancellor Professor Sandra Harding said that this latest report shows that the University’s location in regional Queensland was a continuing and growing benefit to both Cairns and Townsville.

“It is the power of place and justifies calling both Townsville and Cairns university cities,” she said.

“We have embraced our local communities even as we have sought to fulfil the vision of our first advocates for a university in the north to be Australia’s university of and for the tropics.”

Professor Harding said that the report also included case studies that demonstrated the impact from its research on the people, economies and industries of the tropics in Australia and internationally.

The case studies reveal that JCU’s research has lead to the improvement in outcomes in such areas as health, social wellbeing, environmental effects and economic development and contributed to the innovation critical to new industries.

Professor Harding said it was notable that the increased investment in and growth of JCU’s Cairns campus was producing a substantial benefit to the region’s economy.

“For historical reasons JCU’s impact in Townsville where it has been operating in one form or another for more than 50 years is greater than in Cairns which only last year celebrated its 25th anniversary,” she said.

“But in the past four years the economic impact on Cairns of our Smithfield campus has jumped 60 per cent and the number of full time equivalent students has increased by 33 per cent.”

Professor Harding said that JCU’s major contribution was to provide a tertiary education to students, who principally come from the region, and research that has a beneficial and lasting impact on communities here and indeed worldwide.

“But this report shows that we also create jobs and wealth far beyond the students and staff at the University.”

“We have produced more than 43,000 graduates and whether they contribute locally or elsewhere in Australia or overseas, it is their experience in Cairns and Townsville that allows them to make a difference in their communities.”

JCU Media: Jim O’Brien 07 4781 4822 or 0418 892449

Issued November 22, 2013