Simon Fraser University

SFU’s economic impact: $3.65 billion a year

Andrew Petter, SFU president, 778.782.4641;
Jacy Lee (on the report’s methodology), 778.782.3600;
Don MacLachlan, PAMR, 778.782.3929 (o); 604.763.3929 (cell);

(Note: Prof. Petter has limited availability. If you can’t reach him through his office, try Don MacLachlan.)

April 28, 2011

Simon Fraser University has an economic impact in the Lower Mainland worth more than $3.65 billion a year, a new report says.

The SFU report says:

  • Direct spending in the local economy by SFU’s students, faculty, staff, visitors and alumni amounts to an estimated $1.867 billion.
  • That, in turn, generates secondary rounds of spending worth another $933.8 million in indirect impact.
  • And on top of all that is another $851.7 million in the economic impact of SFU research and its spillover effects.

“Results indicate an impact of $3.65 billion by SFU on the local economy in fiscal year 2009/10,” the report says.

SFU President Andrew Petter says: “This report confirms the huge benefits that Simon Fraser University provides to Lower Mainland communities. Moreover, they do not include the many non-economic benefits—such as arts and culture, lectures, forums and events, and the knowledge, advice and support—that SFU faculty, students and staff regularly provide to the community.

“These wide-ranging benefits are the product of a university that prides itself on being student-centred, research-driven, and community-engaged.  And, given the strength of these commitments, I am confident these benefits will continue to grow in the future."

On top of the $3.65 billion, the report notes, there are other impacts of SFU that are not easily measured.

“These include social impacts, the effects from community engagement, and the development of a sustainable economy and community. . . .Undoubtedly, SFU plays a significant role in the wider national and global economies as well.”

The grand total of $3.65 billion in direct and indirect economic benefit includes the impact of what the report calls the “alumni education premium.” This reflects the facts that (a) university graduates have higher incomes; and (b) “more educated employees improve the productivity and income of those that they work with.”

Adds the report: “Since its inaugural year (1965), SFU has graduated more than 100,000 alumni in the disciplines of arts and humanities, social sciences, education, applied sciences, science and business. The estimated education premium for those graduates living in the Metro Vancouver area is approximately $1,121 million ($1.121 billion) based on their annual earnings in 2009.”

The report was prepared by Jacy Lee and Wayne Sun of SFU’s office of Institutional Research and Planning, using methodologies that have been used elsewhere to measure the economic impact of universities and their research.

It concludes: “As the world transitions from the industrial economy to the new knowledge economy, the demand for a university education workforce will grow, with the added benefits of earning higher income available for the local economy.”

The full report is available at:

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