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University of Victoria drives billions of dollars on Vancouver Island: study

UVic adds $3.3 billion to provincial economy, benefits extend through society
Direct University of Victoria activities, those of its students and alumni, added an estimated $3.3 billion to B.C.’s economy for the 2019-20 fiscal year, according to a new independent study. (Black Press Media file photo)

An independent study has confirmed what many on Vancouver Island have long known to be true: the University of Victoria is one of the biggest economic drivers in Greater Victoria and B.C.

Research by labour market analytics firm Emsi Burning Glass, the details of which were shared at a Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce event Monday (June 20), found that UVic activities and those of its students and alumni in 2019-20 added $3.3 billion to B.C.’s economy, a figure that translates into 40,595 jobs in this province, the Emsi report stated.

From a Greater Victoria standpoint, that impact amounted to $1.8 billion and 24,725 jobs, respectively, with roughly one in nine jobs supported by university activities. Figures from the 2020-21 fiscal year saw those totals rise significantly, to $1.9 billion (up by $100 million) and 25,224 jobs.

Areas of focus for the analysis included operations, research, construction, visitor and student spending, as well as spin-off companies and alumni impact.

“UVic is a proud partner in the Greater Victoria and B.C. economy,” university president Kevin Hall said in a release. “The investment in our students, research and operations creates benefits for local businesses, community partners, taxpayers as well as society as a whole by creating a more prosperous economy. Without a doubt, our ability to make this impact relies on our partners and supporters.”

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The extended impact of the university over the years reaches deep into the business community.

Sam Mod, CEO and founder of award-winning software and custom app developer FreshWorks Studio, said his past graduate studies at UVic in the MBA program (masters in business administration) gave him the foundation to achieve international success with his business.

“We have grown FreshWorks to 100-plus diverse individuals, representing 21 different countries and speaking 31 languages in beautiful Victoria. It helped us to put Victoria on the map,” he said.

Looking at the impact of UVic operations alone, in 2020-21 its spending added $548.5 million to the regional economy, up $61.7 million from the previous year. Research spending was down from the previous year in 2020-21, largely due to the pandemic, but still added $78.4 million in income around the region.

Construction spending jumped from $14.3 million in 2019-20 to $36 million the following year.

“UVic is an important economic engine for Greater Victoria, not only as a large employer but also for the vital role it plays in educating the future workforce and contributing expertise, thought leadership and innovation,” said Emilie de Rosenroll, founding CEO of the South Island Prosperity Partnership.

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