News and Views

Irish Universities contribute €8.89 billion to Irish economy annually

4 Apr 2019
Irish Universities make a total research impact of €1.5 billion to the economy. Image: Diane Cusack.

The Irish economy benefitted by €8.9 billion last year from Ireland’s seven universities newly published research has confirmed. 

The first ever socio-economic impact research undertaken on the role universities play in the economy and society has been carried out by Indecon on behalf of the Irish Universities Association.

The Indecon Impact study looks across a variety of areas to assess the impact universities have on research, society, the economy and individuals, including the benefits arising from international students.

Universities generate €386 million per annum in export earnings and €1.5 billion in R&D impacts

Findings from the report include:

  • The seven universities contribute a total of €8.9 billion to the economy.
  • There has been a significant increase in the number of students enrolling for a university education which correlates with the demand for more highly skilled employees in the Irish economy. In 2017 over 120,000 students enrolled, up 50% from 2000.
  • Indecon have identified a cumulative net gain to the Exchequer of €1,606 million in net present value terms based on the lifetime net earnings projections for the 2017 – 2018 cohort of new entrants to the seven universities.  
  • Irish Universities make a total research impact of €1.5 billion to the economy. This breaks down into €632 million from direct research expenditure, €373 million spill-over impact of university-based research on the wider economy, and €526 million from indirect and induced effects.
  • In 2017 – 2018 there were 16,701 full-time International students living in Ireland. Indecon estimated that the total annual export income generated for the Irish economy from International students at €386 million.

The report provides further detail on the social and cultural impacts of Irish Universities along with supporting 22,000 jobs, both directly and indirectly.

The 1,000th day since the Cassells Report

There has been much debate over the economic return university education generates in Ireland without any rigorous scientific analysis of the actual impacts”, said Brian MacCraith, Chair of the Irish Universities Association. “This vacuum has not served the debate well and I am pleased to say that we have now got a detailed independent assessment on the impact Irish Universities have on our society, our economy and on us as individuals.”

Commenting UCC President, Professor Patrick O’Shea stated “UCC’s contribution to our social and economic fabric has been just recently recognised internationally and this report today shows the outstanding contribution that Irish higher education makes to our community and economy.”

Commenting on the research Jim Miley, Director General of the IUA said: “Next Sunday will mark the 1,000th day since the Cassells Report, the Government-appointed Expert Group, identified the scale of the funding gap for higher education and made clear recommendations about dealing with it. The Indecon Report shows that more State investment in university education isn’t just the right thing to do; it’s the profitable thing to do.”

Indecon Research Economists were appointed by the Irish Universities Association, following a competitive tender process, to cover the combined impact of the seven universities represented by the IUA – Dublin City University, Maynooth University, NUI Galway, Trinity College Dublin, University College Cork, University College Dublin and University of Limerick.

For more on this story contact:

Lia O’Sullivan

Head of Communications, Irish Universities Association -E: osullivan@iua.ie T: 353 (0)85 7141414 

University College Cork

Coláiste na hOllscoile Corcaigh

College Road, Cork T12 K8AF

Top