The impact of Higher Education on socioeconomic and development dynamics: lessons from six study cases

Sandra Isabel Gonçalves da Saúde Saúde, Carlos Borralho, Isidro Féria, Sandra Lopes

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionpeer-review


It has long been recognized that human capital, innovation and investment in research and knowledge are fundamental for obtaining sustained growth and social cohesion. HEI as major centers of knowledge and
learning were confirmed in the 90’s, on the scope of the so called Knowledge-
Based Society, as a kind of engine of innovation, crucial to sustain the socioeconomic competitiveness of countries and regions in the global
The debate about the role of HEI in society is often characterized by misunderstanding, over simplifications and/or an absence of evidence. It has often been limited to arguments about the market or ‘close to
market’ activities of higher education institutions; with a particular emphasis on research and teaching that has a direct relevance to business and industry and is relatively easy to measure. This skews the argument, undermining the huge value of the total social benefits
the sector brings. The paper that we intend to present focuses on the
gravitational effects that the presence of an Higher Education Institution (HEI) has in a territory, mainly related with the rejuvenation of the population through the attraction, each new academic year, of new young students and, afterwards, at the end of the training period by the fixation of new permanent residents. To the effect on the population dynamics it must be added economic and cultural effects as well, which in a greater or lesser degree, induce and transform the territorial "DNA". From the analysis of
6 case studies: 4 Higher Education Institutions from Portugal (Universities of: Porto, Évora and Algarve; Polytechnic of Beja) and 2 HEI from Spain: Alcalá de Henares and Lleida, we will reflect on what is the role (and proof it with data collected) that higher education has as mainstay of territorial cohesion and sustainability, particularly in areas of low density. Each
euro invested in higher education has an important and significant return and multiplier effect in the economic, employment and innovation dynamics and vitality.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationXXIV Jornadas de la Asociación de Economía de la Educación
Subtitle of host publicationNúmero 10
EditorsMarta Rahona López, Jennifer Graves
Place of PublicationMadrid
PublisherAsociación de Economia de la Educación (AEDE)
Number of pages9
ISBN (Print)978- 84-944483-4-8
Publication statusPublished - 2015


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