Regional value creation by the city’s higher education sector. 

Objectives and research questions

There is a growing interest in research on the contributions (economically, demographically, culturally) of the higher education sector to regions or cities. In recent years, various studies have investigated the impact of universities on the regional economy. The main objective of this project was to analyse the value creation for the City of Vienna by its public and private universities, as well as by its universities of applied sciences, using a holistic approach beyond purely monetary factors.

The collection of primary data amongst the universities in Vienna formed the basis of the study. This provided information about the students, employees, investments and the hosted congresses collected on the municipal level, which allowed for consideration of the actual boundaries of the Vienna urban region and small scale out- and inflows of purchasing power. Based on this, value creation by the higher education sector was analysed using a holistic approach, in which conclusions can be also drawn about the demographic effects and role of the higher education sector as an employer in the regional employment market.


There are about 190,000 students enrolled in higher education in Vienna, predominantly from Austria, but to a lesser degree from almost all countries worldwide. However, there are large differences between the universities in this regard. A quarter of all students come from abroad, although this number has been rising steadily over the past years. Vienna can be labelled as a “student city”: Every other person aged 19-26 in Vienna is enrolled in a programme at a university in Vienna.

31,500 people are employed by the city’s higher education sector, making it a relevant factor in the regional employment for the highly skilled workforce. The direct and indirect effects of employment is a total of 44,326 jobs. The value creation added by the universities resulting from the expenditure of students and employees as well as investments and hosted congresses amount to €2.55 billion per year. The project shows how the higher education sector is highly relevant in a metropolis like Vienna.  


Musil, Robert und Jakob Eder (2013): Wien und seine Hochschulen. Regionale Wertschöpfungseffekte der Wiener Hochschulen. Wien: Verlag der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften. (=ISR Forschungsbericht 41)



The results were presented at a press conference and were widely reported on in the Austrian press (in German): „Unis mit 2,3 Mrd. Euro Wertschöpfung“ „Studenten bringen Stadt Wien 1,8 Milliarden Euro jährlich“ „Studierende als Wirtschaftsmotor“ „Unis bringen Wien 2,3 Mrd. Euro pro Jahr“ „Studie: 2,3 Milliarden für Wien durch Studenten“

ISR-Project team


2013 to 2014


Beauftragter der Stadt Wien für Universitäten und Forschung