Fifteen private, nonprofit colleges and universities in Maryland have a profound impact on the State’s economic vitality, according to an independent analysis conducted by Appleseed and released in February by MICUA. The findings quantify a $6.4 billion industry, which directly and indirectly supports 63,780 jobs. Together, these 15 colleges and universities attract billions of dollars in federal and private revenues, which fuel the region’s economic engine. The MICUA member institutions directly employ almost 32,000 Marylanders with a combined payroll of $2 billion.
“Most of us do not think of higher education as a major industry. In reality, independent higher education is an economic powerhouse and the largest private employer in the State,” said Tina Bjarekull, President of MICUA.
The Appleseed report analyzes the impact these 15 colleges and universities have on the State’s economic activity, human capital, business and research developments, and service to community. From an economic perspective, independent higher education is a major purchaser of goods and services from businesses throughout the State. Last year, MICUA member institutions spent $798 million on purchasing and construction-related activities.
In addition, MICUA member institutions spent about $2.4 billion on research and related programs—almost all of which was funded by the federal government or other sources outside of Maryland. According to the report, “external research funding directly and indirectly supports tens of thousands of jobs in Maryland today—and is a vital source of the new knowledge, new technologies, and new business ventures on which the State’s future growth depends.” College and university research helps address pressing problems such as environmental sustainability, disease prevention, business development, neighborhood revitalization, and quality schools.
Spending by visitors and students also impacts Maryland’s economy. Last year, 179,074 out-of-state visitors to MICUA campuses spent more than $41 million on food, lodging, recreation, shopping, and gasoline. In addition, students generated $500 million in economic activity through off-campus spending.
Consistent with their educational mission, Maryland’s independent colleges and universities play a central role in the development of the human resources that the State needs to succeed in an increasingly knowledge-intensive economy. Last year, the 15 institutions conferred 14,071 degrees and certificates, including 5,980 bachelor’s degrees, 7,132 graduate and professional degrees, 114 associate’s degrees, and 791 certificates. The degrees awarded by independent colleges and universities help prepare students for careers in areas that are critical to the future of the State’s economy, such as the life sciences, information technology and security, engineering, health care, and international business.
Along with developing the State’s human capital, MICUA’s 15 independent colleges and universities are deeply engaged in the life of the communities in which they operate. The future of Maryland’s economy depends on the strength of its communities and neighborhoods. The Appleseed report documents the participation of MICUA institutions in efforts to strengthen elementary and secondary schools, the role of colleges and universities as cultural resources for their communities, and student involvement in community services. It is estimated that students from MICUA institutions volunteered more than 300,000 hours with community organizations during 2009-2010.
Click here to view a full copy of the report compiled by the New York consulting firm, Appleseed.