Lack of students causes massive income loss for Kolozsvár

The outbreak of the coronavirus has impacted many parts of our lives, including education, which moved online in Romania more than a year ago. Students, teachers, professors and parents have hated or enjoyed this new reality, but they are not the only ones who have been affected by online education: The university centers, and mostly their economies, are suffering from the shift. A study conducted by researchers at Babeş-Bolyai University (BBU) in Kolozsvár (Cluj-Napoca) showed that the lack of students has had a significant impact on the economic life of the city.

According to the press release published by BBU, university students represent more than 20 percent of the population of the city, the highest student/resident proportion in the country (followed by Jászvásár/Iaşi with 14 percent, Temesvár/Timişoara with 12 percent and the capital of Bucharest with 8 percent). However, due to online learning, a big percentage of students chose not to move to the city, negatively impacting the economy of the capital of Transylvania.

According to a study conducted by the university, the city is losing EUR 33.4 million a month — the amount spent by approximately 100,000 students when they were physically in the city. This estimation is based on another study that analyzed the impact of Babeş-Bolyai University on the economy of Kolozsvár in 2015. BBU’s contribution to the local economy is estimated by measuring the money brought into the municipality’s economy via things like rent, food purchases, etc.

The new study started with the previous data from 2015, then researchers Dr. Dan Lazăr (Vice-Rector of Financing, Digitalization and Student Relations) and researcher Andrei Chircă adjusted this total (money spent by the students) to the number of BBU students currently enrolled in the 2019/2020 academic year; this figure was then adjusted for inflation. Their results suggest that students from all 11 universities in Kolozsvár — 6 public and 5 private higher education institutions — spend EUR 33.4 (RON 161.5 million) every month in Kolozsvár.

This amount, however, is on the low end because the initial study included only the expenses of students enrolled in full-time education to obtain a bachelor’s, master’s or doctorate degree and excluded those enrolled in postgraduate studies or teaching-degree programs as well as any administration and teaching staff.

In addition, visitors of BBU students in 2015 spent EUR 7.5 million — a EUR 625,000 loss for the city each month, the press release shows. Similarly, another underestimated factor is the expenses of foreign students – who have the highest budgets – enrolled in other universities, not BBU. In general, foreign students make up 7 percent of the total student population of the city.

The initial study in 2015 was based on a sociological survey showing that the 29,754 BBU students living in Kolozsvár spent EUR 141.6 million a year in the city. To these expenses are added EUR 7.5 million, the expenses of people visiting the students in 2015, and another EUR 1.5 million, the expenses of potential students that visited the city during the admissions period, the press release of Babeş-Bolyai University shows.

Title image: More than 1,500 Hungarian students from Kolozsvár attend Hungarian Student Days every year. The festival – that was not organized last year – always starts in the Main Square of the city. Photo: KMDSZ Diáknapok Facebook Page

Author: Orsi Sarány