Economic impact

UOW partners with community and industry, especially emerging, start-up and global businesses operating in all the regions in which we have campuses to create new jobs, job opportunities for our graduates, and assist industry in improving practice.

Economic Impact Report 2020

This snapshot of UOW’s economic and social contribution is from the study titled Leading Locally, Competing Globally: Measuring the University of Wollongong’s Contribution to Economic and Social Prosperity in the Illawarra and beyond. The study, based on a 2018 data set, shows that UOW's contribution to the Illawarra and Australian economy continues to grow steadily, rising 6 per cent in the last three years.

UOW is invested in improving the economic, social and cultural life of everyone within our communities. As such, we are committed to increasing access to higher education. In addition to providing regional campuses, UOW delivers successful strategies to ensure that students from underrepresented groups can access, participate and succeed in higher education.

UOW’s total direct, indirect and induced economic contribution to Gross Domestic Product in 2018 was $1.4 billion. The various activities related to UOW help generate $2.5 billion in gross output annually.

In real terms, the direct economic contribution of UOW (in value-added terms) in the Illawarra increased by 5.8% between 2015 and 2018. As for the Australia-wide impact, in real terms the total economic contribution of UOW increased from $1.3 billion in 2015 to $1.4 billion in 2018. Every $1 million in gross output as a result of UOW-related expenditure generates another $1 million of gross output elsewhere in the economy.

Download the Economic Impact Summary Report 2020 (PDF)

Download the Economic Impact Report 2020 (PDF)

UOW's economic footprint

UOW's total direct, indirect and induced economic contribution to Gross Domestic Product in 2018 was $1.4 billion. The various activities related to UOW helped generate $2.5 billion in gross output annually. This reflects the continued significance of UOW in the Illawarra and Australia more broadly.

Advancing our communities

UOW is an important asset as a key developer of human capital, particularly due to the changing structure of employment in the Illawarra, Shoalhaven, South Coast, Southern Highlands as well as in Liverpool.

UOW’s regional campuses have built strong local community and business connections. They continue to support local business growth and diversification through research collaborations that provide a pipeline of skilled and career-ready graduates.

Our regional campuses are Shoalhaven (Nowra), Eurobodalla, Bega Valley, and Southern Highlands (Moss Vale).

UOW’s Wollongong, metropolitan, regional and international campuses inspire career pathways and address workforce needs to sustain local services and enterprises. In particular, UOW Liverpool Campus provides a base to create private sector partnerships and skills development to capitalise on Western Sydney Airport at Badgerys Creek. A School of Nursing also forms part of the Campus to train the next generation of nurses, encouraging them to study, train and work in their local area.

According to the 2020 Good Universities Guide, UOW students are more satisfied with the skills they develop during their studies, the learning resources they are provided with and how engaged they and their fellow students are in learning than any other NSW university.

Employers are more satisfied with UOW graduates than with graduates of all other NSW public universities, according to the Australian Government’s Quality Indicators for Learning and Teaching (QILT) Employer Satisfaction Survey. It found employers’ overall satisfaction level with UOW graduates was at 89.6 per cent, ranking above all other NSW public universities and second among public universities nationally.

UOW alumni make a big impact

UOW alumni form a vibrant global community of more than 160,000 leaders and innovators. About 28.8 per cent of UOW graduates reside in the Illawarra region, while 34.7 per cent live internationally. The 34 per cent of UOW graduates living within the rest of NSW and Australia make an ongoing contribution to income, productivity and innovation.

Read more about how UOW is broadening access, developing skills for future jobs and exposing industries to new technologies on pages 6-9 of the summary report (PDF).

Key facts

  • 35,660 enrolled students
  • 160,000+ Alumni
  • Top 1% for graduates as rated by global employers
  • 179 nationalities

Breakthroughs that transform

UOW is providing solutions that support emerging businesses and transform core industries to adopt advanced technologies and innovative systems.

UOW strongly contributes to regional innovation development and helps close the gap between research and application through appropriate channels. UOW motivates our students and staff to engage in academic and commercial research and over the past decade we have generated more than $640 million in research and innovation income from a variety of government and industry resources.

UOW engages with industry, community and government to solve cutting-edge problems. This is driven by the development of breakthrough steel technologies for industry, improving quality and reliability in electricity supply, advancing technologies and strengthening industrial capacity for defence, and developing advanced materials for automative, construction and biomedical applications.

This work supports local small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to compete on both a domestic and global scale. It also distributes opportunities across NSW for businesses to be exposed to a range of frontier materials and technologies, helping them become more competitive.

Read more about how UOW's research is solving complex real-world problems on pages 10-13 of the summarised report (PDF).

Key facts

  • $640M+ UOW has generated in research and innovation income over the past decade from government and industry resources
  • 294 commercial research contracts executed in 2019
  • 154 companies and government institutions engaged in commercial research with UOW
  • 100 UOW staff undertaking commercial research

Fostering innovation, supporting start-ups

UOW supports entrepreneurial activity across a breadth of sectors and our iAccelerate Centre is playing a key role in the surge of entrepreneurs and innovators who are transforming Australia’s economy.

The Centre is helping to support start-ups, foster growth and innovation in established companies, and provide pathways for researchers to commercialise their ideas.

Located at the Innovation Campus, the iAccelerate Centre is the largest university-led incubator and accelerator in Australia – with over 60 companies in residence in 2019. Support available through iAccelerate was extended in 2018 after federal funding was received to establish the Bega Valley Innovation Hub.

UOW plays an important role in helping small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to adopt technology to sustain, evolve and grow their business.

Our highly successful Advantage SME program helps SMEs engage with the University to develop new technologies, innovative products and services, improve business capabilities and engage in regional industry collaboration.

Advantage SME was established in 2016 within the Boosting Business Innovation Program and is funded by the NSW Department of Industry.

Since 2016, 24 TechVouchers have been distributed at UOW, totalling over $260,000. Four collaboration vouchers to the value of $186,000 have been distributed and 1,024 unique contacts have joined the Advantage SME program.

Twenty-eight innovative industry-research collaborations have been approved under the program, including three-way collaborations. One such collaboration has combined a South Nowra pharmaceutical manufacturing company, a small business and UOW researchers to produce food and medical products from locally grown seaweed.

Key facts:

  • 192 companies supported since by iAccelerate inception (179 at iAccelerate and 13 at Bega Valley Innovation Hub)
  • 639 total number of full and part time jobs delivered by iAccelerate since inception
  • 1,024 unique contacts have joined Advantage SME
  • 28 industry-research collaborations approved through Advantage SME

Supporting our communities

UOW’s regional campuses in the Shoalhaven (Nowra), Eurobodalla, Bega Valley, and Southern Highlands (Moss Vale) continually build strong local community and business connections.

In addition to teaching and research, our regional campuses are focused on being community service hubs. They demonstrate how UOW and our partners are together providing teaching and research-integrated services that address the needs of local communities.

Examples include the Nursing Clinical Learning Facility at UOW Bega Valley (which is helping to augment the supply of trained nurses into regional healthcare systems) and the MIND the GaP facility at Shoalhaven (which addresses mental health issues for young people living in the Shoalhaven).

UOW’s commitment to our regions was most recently demonstrated by the assistance we provided to communities on the South Coast and Southern Highlands during Australia’s bushfire crisis.

Our regional campuses play a significant role in strengthening engagement, social inclusion and participation. UOW’s Community Engagement Grants Scheme encourages our staff to partner with community organisations to address a community need. Established in 2005, over $660,000 has been awarded to 77 projects that benefit local communities.

UOW also seeks to build strong communities facilitated by the Community Investment Program. The Program aims to play an active role in advancing and championing social, cultural, environmental and economic developments in our regions with a view to drive innovation resulting in change that has impact.

UOW is also enhancing community health, continuing to deliver elements of our Health and Wellbeing Strategy which is a transformational package for healthcare and wellbeing that addresses future learning and teaching, research, clinical and workforce development needs in the Illawarra-Shoalhaven region and beyond.

At the heart of the Strategy is the Health and Wellbeing Precinct. It is a project of global interest as it will be Australia’s first intergenerational university-led community: a place for living, working, learning and growing in an environment that supports complete physical, social and mental health and wellbeing.

This project provides the greater Illawarra region with research, innovation, world-leading healthcare services, significant employment opportunities and capital investment, with the aim to address regional, national and global health challenges.

Read more about UOW’s social and cultural impact in pages 18-21 of the summary report (PDF).

Key facts

  • 300+ displaced people stayed at UOW Batemans Bay (now UOW Eurobodalla) during the recent bushfire crisis
  • $660,000+ awarded to 77 projects that benefit local communities via the Community Engagement Grants Scheme
  • 645,000+ visits to UniActive facilities in 2019
  • 125,000 + visitors to Early Start Discovery Space in 2018- 2019 financial year
  • 65,000+ visitors to Science Space in 2018-2019 financial year
  • 250 + different types of paid and volunteer roles through UOWx
  • 2,000+ students claim their co-curricular involvement each year


Flow-on impacts from operations

With over 2,700 FTE employees, UOW is among the top employers within the Greater Wollongong region.

UOW employees provide a major economic stimulus through their spending. A large percentage of employees are knowledge workers such as academics, professionals, technicians, managers and administrators who receive wages above the regional average. These higher incomes create more wealth due to substantial flow-through effects within the regional economy.

Operations represent a major generator of economic activity and include capital investment, student expenditure, visitor expenditure, and its role as a major regional exporter.

A total of $386 million in labour income is directly generated by UOW operations. In total, UOW operations and student expenditure contribute an estimated 7,666 FTE in the Illawarra region.

Read more about flow-on impacts from UOW in pages 22-23 of the summary report (PDF).

Key facts

  •  $743M total value-added of UOW operations in Australia
  • 9 campuses across Australia
  • 365 degrees on offer
  • 36 commercial retail operators
  • 2,747 direct FTE employees


Students are the lifeblood of the University and are a major source of economic stimulus to the broader community as many of them live and spend in the Illawarra region.

Our students also make broader economic and social contributions through casual or part-time work, or participation in volunteering, sport and other community activities.

The total value-added (GDP-equivalent figure) resulting from student spending in the Illawarra was $334 million in 2018. Widening the lens to include the indirect and induced effects across Australia results in a total value-added of $646 million.

Read more about estimated student expenditure in pages 24-25 of the summary report (PDF).

UOW highlights potential areas for sustainable development and growth as well as addressing key environmental concerns for our regions.

This is demonstrated in the 2022 Times Higher Education University Impact Rankings, where UOW ranks equal 70th in the world. The rankings measure universities’ social and economic impact based on their success in delivering outcomes addressing the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

UOW is also a new member of the Australia, New Zealand and Pacific Network of the Sustainable Development Solutions Network.

As part of our commitment to innovation in sustainable living, the University is working to find new ways to generate, distribute, store and utilise energy in all sectors of society. Our strengths in energy research include renewable energy systems and integration, power systems, sustainability, power quality and reliability, battery energy storage systems, and infrastructure modelling and economics.

As an example, UOW research groups from the Australian Power Quality and Reliability Centre and the Sustainable Buildings Research Centre (SBRC) are working alongside the Institute for Superconducting and Electronic Materials (ISEM) to develop a pilot-scale sodium materials production facility to prototype and develop modular and expandable battery packs.

We are not just a university. We are a global community.

At UOW, our transformative projects are connecting our communities into an international network of businesses, collaborators, researchers, students, governments and investors.

Our programs support, encourage and help to generate regional development, innovation and new employment opportunities. Our delivery of education in a wide range of cultural settings creates opportunities for research and knowledge exchange aligned to the innovation strategies of these territories.

We deliver a world-class education in Australia and have developed a strong offshore presence since the opening of the University of Wollongong in Dubai in 1993.

Our network of regional, metropolitan and international campuses provide the grounding and global outlook required to address issues of importance across all of our communities.

Our trust-based partnership approach will continue to support the University to develop and pursue initiatives and opportunities which deliver change that matters.

At the University of Wollongong, we lead boldly and confidently.

Previous Economic Impact Reports