A new report assessing the economic impact of the University of Windsor concludes the school has had a "dramatic and transformative economic impact on the region, the province and at a national level."
The university commissioned KPMG to conduct the study, which was released Monday.
Among its findings, the university generated 3,797 jobs in Canada last year, mostly local, and paid $207 million in salaries and benefits to local employees. The study suggests a large portion of that income was spent on local goods and services, thereby creating more local jobs.
The report looked at spending in Windsor-Essex by non-local and international students, amounting to $134 million annually. Nearly one-quarter of the U of W's 16,000 students are international.
The school also spent nearly $88 million in rejuvenating downtown Windsor.
The report concludes the school's total economic impact is estimated at $669 million in gross domestic product throughout the country.
"Overall, as universities prepare for the challenges of the future, UWindsor is uniquely placed to be a front runner in meeting these challenges," the report notes in its summary. "This reflects its unique location at a major border and the depth and breadth of its educational programming."
While there may be a number of ways to measure a university's value and quality, Vincent Georgie, acting associate vice-president external, says the decision to measure economic impact falls within one of the school's strategic priorities: to have an effect on the local community and the region of Windsor-Essex.
"It's looking at, I think, a fulsome way of seeing how are we moving the needle, how are we advancing things?" said Georgie.
"I think the combination of all these types of categories gives us a sense of where we're at."
Georgie said the assessment helps to analyze the role the university plays in community building, engagement and the number of students involved in the community.
"This is a way of measuring and saying, 'OK, well how much of that are we doing? How many dollars are coming into the region?'"
The study notes the university's local connections through a number of community-focused engagements such as mentoring programs at the Windsor International Film Festival, youth science fairs, nursing and legal aid clinics, and United Way initiatives.
The assessment also found that by partnering on community-based research to support public, non-profit, and community organizations, the community benefited from 139,000 hours of Master of Social Work practicum service hours annually, more than 142,000 hours in nursing practicum services each year and 30,000 hours of psychological services by graduate students serving clinical internships.
"You can imagine just slightly over 142,000 hours, that's not an error, over 142,000 hours committed by nursing students in the community, in a single year," said Georgie.
"We talk about building communities, having high-quality jobs is one that we refer to."
The KPMG report also touched on local revenue created by visitors. The university attracted 36,000 visitors to the region on an annual basis for sporting and alumni events and orientation week, resulting in local spending of $30 million.
"Universities are enormous economic drivers in the regions that they operate," said Georgie.
"I think it's really important to understand how fulsome the impact is."
For more, here is the full interview on Windsor Morning