Login | June 25, 2019

Studies examine the positive impact of public universities

Legal News Reporter

Published: October 12, 2018

Initially founded as Buchtel College in 1870 by the Ohio Universalist Convention, The University of Akron has been making a difference in the lives of students for over 140 years.

Today the university serves about 21,000 students who can choose from over 200 associate, bachelor’s, master’s, doctorate and law degree programs.

School surveys show positive career outcomes for a large percentage of graduates and recently The University of Akron set out to assess the institution’s overall economic and investment impact on the community.

The study entitled, “The Economic Value of The University Akron,” calculated the school’s benefits to students, taxpayers and society during the 2016-17 fiscal year.

Unveiled in the spring of 2018, the in-depth analysis found the university and its research and entrepreneurial activities together with students and visitors added $2.7 billion in income to the UA service area’s economy, supporting 36,732 jobs.

The school employed 4,118 full- and part-time people to keep the university running and paid out $244.8 million in salaries, with a large portion of the money used to purchase goods in the community. UA also spent another $152.9 million to support its day-to-day operations.

During the fiscal year 2016-17, former and current students generated $2.2 billion in added income. In addition almost $25 million in annual visitor spending occurred as a result of school events and activities and UA startup and spinoff companies resulting from university research added another $15.7 million to the region.

“Our universities have been very valuable dating back to the Middle Ages,” said John Green, Ph.D., interim president of The University of Akron. “I believe they are even more important now as we move into the knowledge economy.

“The cost of education has gone up substantially and there are a number of individuals who question whether it’s worth it,” said Green. “I would argue that the individual return one gets from a degree over the course of a lifetime is substantial. The impact is also substantial to the communities, which reap many benefits including tax revenue and monies spent toward the cost of living.”

Richard Rebadow, executive vice president at the Greater Akron Chamber, said UA plays an important role in the northeast Ohio economy.

“UA has long invested in our organization and its staff and administrators work with many local businesses and community leaders to move this region forward,” said Rebadow. “The interim president, Dr. Green, has been a very good partner of ours for many years.”

UA is one of 14 public universities in the state of Ohio credited with giving rise to a rosier economic picture.

An Inter-University Council of Ohio (IUC) study conducted by Economic Modeling Specialists International (Emsi) in Moscow, Idaho determined that the state’s public universities, their students and regional alumni added $42 billion in income to the state economy in 2016-17, representing about 6.7 percent of Ohio’s total gross state product.

The study found the state’s public universities serve a range of industries in Ohio, support local businesses, jobs and increase tax revenue and public sector savings.

It also noted that students attending the schools realize a 13.7 percent return on their investment or $4.60 in future earnings for every dollar a student spends on tuition, supplies and opportunity costs.

“When it comes right down to it, Ohio’s public universities are one of the best investments available,” said IUC President Bruce Johnson.

“University graduates benefit from a significant earnings premium. Public universities generate more tax dollars than they take. They create and retain wealth. They perform better for their students than the stock market does,” said Johnson. “These are compelling reasons why supporting higher education should be a public policy priority in Ohio.”

“The numbers speak for themselves,” Jay Gershen, president of the Northeast Ohio Medical University and current chairman of the IUC said in a press release. “The Emsi study confirms that Ohio’s public universities are substantial drivers of economic activity, creators of economic opportunity and a great long-term investment for students and the state.”

Rebadow said institutions like Kent State University, Northeast Ohio Medical University and Stark State College, which has multiple locations and a strong presence in Summit County, are also major contributors to northeast Ohio’s economy.

“The research efforts at these institutions will continue to play a pivotal role in cultivating new investment opportunities in our community which, in addition, will attract and retain a talent pipeline,” said Rebadow. “Our hope is that through IUC we can connect the dots between Ohio public universities and foster partnerships between them that further generate wealth within our economy.”