‘Economic engine’: U of A contributes $19.4B annually to Alberta’s economy

Revenue generated by the university accounts for more than 5% of Alberta’s annual GDP, new study shows.

EDMONTON — The University of Alberta generates $19.4 billion a year for the province’s economy, contributing more than five per cent of Alberta’s GDP — the equivalent of the provincial health care and social assistance industry or the revenue from 84 thriving Edmonton Oilers or 109 Calgary Flames NHL teams — according to a new R.A. Malatest & Associates economic impact study.

The study, which focused on the 2021-2022 period, also shows that every dollar invested by the province in the university brings a return of $4.80. 

Of the university’s total economic impact, $8.2 billion comes from research and development. For example, supported by a $75-million investment, Canada’s largest energy research cluster, Future Energy Systems, is based at the U of A. 

More recently, an $80.5-million funding boost gave the green light for the Canadian Critical Drug Initiative, a new drug manufacturing facility in Edmonton that will commercialize new drug discoveries and prevent future shortages.

The study further found Alberta workers with a U of A degree earn higher average salaries, accounting for an estimated $7.6 billion in economic impact. 

This impact on the Alberta economy is expected to grow as the demand for post-secondary education continues to climb, with admission applications having increased by 25 per cent in the past six years and projected to increase an additional 20 per cent by 2028.

Much of this talent is retained in Alberta — 75 per cent of all U of A graduates and 84 per cent of those who graduated within the past 10 years have remained in the province. 

Much of the U of A’s institutional spending returns directly to the capital region, with more than $1 billion going to salaries and benefits, and $150 million to student aid. 

Finally, spending by visitors who travel to the university to visit students or attend conferences accounted for $332 million.

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Media contact: 
Debra Clark
U of A communications associate


“The University of Alberta plays a critical role in the province’s success. The university generates the innovative ideas, pioneering technology and highly educated workforce needed for the province to prosper.”

“Our excellence in growing sectors such as artificial intelligence, energy systems and precision health will help ensure the province remains at the forefront of the changing global economy for decades to come.”

“When we sell Alberta to the world, talent, innovation, and impact are at the top of the list. The U of A’s contributions to Alberta and the world make it a major player in the economic growth of the province and our ability to showcase Alberta as a destination of choice for high-impact global investment. It’s an exciting time for Alberta, and the U of A is the perfect example of a place where big things grow from exciting new ideas.”

“We tend to think of Alberta’s competitive advantage being energy and agriculture. While we are global leaders in these fields, our true advantage is our people — their ideas, their entrepreneurship, and courage to lead and build.” 

“The University of Alberta is intricately linked to Alberta’s future. It’s obvious that investments into the University of Alberta pay huge dividends to our economy, our communities and all Albertans. The University is an economic engine for the Edmonton region and all of Alberta. Their financial impact is substantial today and we see this growing significantly in the near term.”