York University releases summary of its new economic and social impact report

Vari Hall new image
Vari Hall new image

York University contributes $4.4 billion to Ontario’s economy, according to Driving Positive Change: The York University Economic and Social Impact Report 2020 Summary, a new report released today.

The summary, which is based on a 72-page report, profiles the University’s economic, fiscal and social impact in the GTHA, Ontario and beyond. It documents the magnitude of York University’s economic impact on the region, province and nation through access to education, employment, innovative research and as a global gateway.

York University President and Vice-Chancellor Rhonda L. Lenton
York University President and Vice-Chancellor Rhonda L. Lenton

Driving Positive Change: The York University Economic and Social Impact Report 2020 Summary measures and quantifies the significant economic and social benefits generated by York University, and tells the story about the difference we are making – for our students, our communities, and the world,” says York University President and Vice-Chancellor Rhonda L. Lenton.

“This report demonstrates how the University serves as a ladder of opportunity for students, an engine for social progress, and a driver of economic growth for Ontario and Canada,” adds Lenton. “It illustrates how, with strong partnerships both locally and internationally, we are continuing to amplify our research, scholarship and creative activities, and expand our innovation and entrepreneurship network to increase our contributions to the social, economic, cultural and environmental well-being of our local and global communities.”

To prepare the report, the University engaged the independent firm Higher Education Strategy Associates (HESA) to work with York’s Office of Institutional Planning and Analysis to conduct surveys of first-generation students and alumni. The resulting document presents an inspiring portrait of a modern post-secondary institution committed to positive change.

Driving Positive Change report summary cover image for YFile story on January 25
The cover of Driving Positive Change: The York University Economic and Social Impact Report Summary

Here are some of the key findings provided in Driving Positive Change: The York University Economic and Social Impact Report 2020 Summary:

Access to a university education is an important factor for many of York University’s students. In fact, a total of eight per cent of York University students believe they would not attend university if they could not attend York.

A large share of the University’s alumni aged 25 to 64 affirm they were access students (8.5 per cent), resulting in 21,226 individuals within the age range of 25 to 64 years with university degrees who would not have had an opportunity to earn a degree without the access and opportunity offered to them by York University. The economic impact created by York University’s effect on expanding access for alumni approached $2.2 billion and 1,621 jobs.

York University’s reputation for diversity and inclusion is valued by learners, leading them to choose it over other institutions. Its wide array of policies and programs, including articulation agreements with local colleges and bridging programs, offer a place for access students to launch their professional or scientific careers.

Higher income, improved well-being and greater civic engagement are all qualities that students and alumni among the survey groups attribute to York University. Among alumni, the aggregate benefits associated with a York degree were more than $1.1 billion in additional income and 1,338 additional jobs in 2018.

The report estimates that post-secondary access alumni from York University earned approximately 140 per cent or $63,253 more than Toronto Census Management Area (CMA) high school graduates, while the University’s alumni earned 86 per cent or $47,395 more than Toronto CMA college graduates.

York University’s local communities are also experiencing benefits as alumni are 13.5 per cent more likely to volunteer their time than graduates of other universities in the GTHA. In terms of civic engagement, some 56 per cent of York University alumni report they had pursued volunteer activities that benefit schools, religious organizations, sports or community associations within the past year.

Support for entrepreneurship was also reported by York graduates, with 21 per cent of alumni entrepreneurs, a total of 16,491 individuals, indicating they became entrepreneurs because of York University. Additionally, 30.2 per cent report their ventures were more successful because of York.

Two of the commercialization success stories highlighted in the report include Droplet Lab, a startup commercializing an image-based surface tensiometer using a smartphone, and Bitnobi Inc., a startup focused on commercializing a privacy-protected data-sharing technology.

Advancing the public good through research that contributes to communities is a focal point of York University’s research activities. To support this direction, in 2018-19, York University received $45.87 million in partnership research funding through more than 800 agreements. A large portion of this funding, $26.75 million, was provided by the Government of Canada and its agencies. Not-for-profit organizations such as health-related groups or other universities contributed $8.95 million in funding during the same period.

Research conducted by York University’s thought leaders extends beyond the borders of Canada and has a global impact. Many projects are focused on developing creative and innovative solutions to the most pressing concerns faced by Ontario, Canada and the world.

“Ontario and the world are facing challenges that no single government, business or university can solve,” says Lenton. “Through partnership and collaboration, York University is embracing its role as a hub for innovative solutions to inequality, pandemic recovery, climate change and a host of other complex issues, and driving positive change in our communities and around the world.”

To learn more, visit the Driving Positive Change website.