After more than a year, two professors at Memorial University of Newfoundland have calculated the university's economic worth in dollars and cents.

The president of the university asked economist Wade Locke to work on the project to help better understand the university's fiscal impact on the province. 

According to Locke, Memorial accounts for more than $1 billion in overall economic activity per year.

That translates into approximately 11,200 full-time jobs — roughly 5.6 per cent of the province's employment. 

The university pays $560 million salaries and generates $250 million in revenue for the government.

li-mun-460

Memorial accounts for more than one-billion dollars in overall economic activity per year. (Wikimedia Commons)

"The access to the university by Newfoundland has facilitated some of the prosperity that we are now seeing in Newfoundland," Locke told CBC News. 

"If it wasn't for the fact that we have a university here you wouldn't see the same level of prosperity and vice versa — if it weren't for the same level of prosperity in the economy, the university wouldn't be doing as well as it's doing [either]," said Locke. 

Significant role to play

Coincidentally, the provincial government is doing some number crunching of its own. 

Locke said the report was not meant to coincide with tough budget talks — it was commissioned long before the province's fiscal crisis. However, he thinks the university has a significant role to play.

"The price of oil is going up as we speak today but one of the most important ways that you can diversify your economy and enhance your ability to move forward in terms of economic activity is through providing an educated workforce," Locke said.

"And the more educated you are, the higher will be your productivity, the higher will be your innovation through research and development — so the university has an important role to play." 

Without a university in the province, Locke said Newfoundlanders and Labradorians would earn fewer degrees and employment would be down.