Stellenbosch University. Picture: SUNDAY TIMES
Stellenbosch University. Picture: SUNDAY TIMES

Stellenbosch University says it is worth more than R5bn a year to the local economy.

Research released on Thursday by Maties’ own Bureau for Economic Research said almost 20% of economic activity in the Western Cape winelands town stems from the university.

The findings are based on an assessment of the university’s operating and capital expenditure and spending by staff and students.

Bureau director Prof Johann Kirsten said: "The study found that the economic impact of the university ... is estimated to be R5.112bn in 2016." Adjusted for inflation‚ the 2018 figure is estimated at R5.644bn.

Kirsten said the figure includes all sales and transactions triggered by the initial injection of expenditure‚ 61% of which is attributed to students.

"The presence of [the university] also generates R1.1bn in labour remuneration — which equates to it creating more than 21% of the formal work opportunities and 8.7% of the informal opportunities — and sustains 13,406 jobs [or full-time job equivalents] in the local economy."

More than 15.5% of production and more than 18% of gross value added generated in the Stellenbosch Municipality is stimulated by the university‚ he said.

"These estimates‚ however‚ understate the total impact of [the university] as they only pertain to the local benefits. [The university] has close links with the rest of the province and country. For example‚ only a portion of the creditor payments made by [the university] were made to local companies‚ while the rest generates large economic benefits outside the region — which was purposefully not captured by this study," Kirsten said.

Additionally‚ there are intangible benefits of having a university present‚ such as the promotion of spin-off companies. "Overall‚ the economic benefits of a university stretches beyond the primary role of being a knowledge centre and driving force of innovation within a region."