Stellenbosch University (SU) contributes more than R5 billion to the local economy, according to a study released by the Bureau of Economic Research (BER) on Thursday.
The aim of the study was to assess the university's contribution to the economy of the Stellenbosch municipal area.
"SU is part of the fabric of Stellenbosch and it would be difficult to imagine the region without the university," director of the BER Professor Johann Kirsten said.
"In fact, the study found that the economic impact of the university on output is estimated to be R5.1bn in 2016 (R5.6bn in 2018)."
The figure includes all sales and transactions that were triggered by the initial injection of expenditure – the majority of which comes from student expenditure (61%).
Kirsten explained that the university's presence also generates R1.1bn in labour remuneration, which equates to the university creating more than 21% of the formal work activities and 8.7% of informal activities in the region.
Catalyst in luring investment
Most importantly, the university sustains 13 406 jobs in the local economy.
To put the magnitude of the impact of SU in perspective, more than 15.5% of production and more than 18% of gross value added generated in the municipality is stimulated by the presence of the institution.
Therefore, almost one fifth of perceived economic activity in the region can be traced back to the activities of the university and its people.
SU chief operations officer Professor Stan du Plessis emphasised the significance of the university's direct economic benefits.
"Not only is the university labour intensive in that it creates more wealth than its relative size, but it acts as a catalyst in luring investors, entrepreneurs and business leaders alike while also actively contributing to Stellenbosch as a knowledge region," he said.
"Of equal importance, however, is that the study reveals that the University is indeed the kind of university SU aspires to be: Africa's leading research-intensive university, globally recognised as inclusive and innovative, where we advance knowledge in service of society."