The University of Alabama System’s broad impact powers economic growth

The overall economic impact of The University of Alabama System exceeds $10 billion a year, but the true impacts of these institutions extend far beyond any financial measurement.

For starters, consider this: The University of Alabama, The University of Alabama in Huntsville and The University of Alabama at Birmingham, along with the UAB Health System, combine to form Alabama’s most effective high-performance job engine.

Together, they employ more than 45,000 people, equal to the population of a mid-size Alabama city. Viewed from that perspective, the System is Alabama’s largest employer.

The combined revenue of these entities — $6 billion annually – puts it on scale with the state’s largest corporations.

University of Alabama System
Fess St. John is Chancellor of The University of Alabama System.

“The University of Alabama System is an extremely important entity in this state,” Chancellor Fess St. John said. “When you think about the number of students who go to UAH, UAB and The University of Alabama, and the number of patients treated at UAB Hospital, the research being done, the economic impact it has on the state, it is one of our biggest success stories.

“It’s hard to think of another enterprise in the last 10 or 15 years that has had the same record of success we have had,” he added.

Impact studies demonstrate that the UA System represents a high-yielding investment for Alabama, which benefits from double-digit returns on state appropriations. The return is also significant for students, who amass substantially higher lifetime earnings through degrees.


The universities are playing a significant role in solidifying Alabama’s economy and preparing it for continued growth. Here are some of the ways:

  • The System’s universities awarded 16,000 degrees last year, helping fill a growing jobs pipeline for many industries. Many of these graduates came from out of state and will remain here to pursue their careers.
  • The universities reign as Alabama’s research powerhouse, driving innovation and expanding knowledge in fields ranging from health care and space exploration to cybersecurity and automotive manufacturing. In Fiscal 2017 alone, they attracted nearly $600 million in government research contracts and grants.
  • They are launching new programs to boost their support of entrepreneurship in Alabama and provide a spark for start-up businesses across the state. At UAH, construction is underway on the Invention to Innovation Center (I²C), which will serve as an incubator for new business development.
  • The three universities anchor their hometown economies. One example: The University of Alabama’s economic impact on the Tuscaloosa metro area was projected at nearly $2 billion, with around 12,400 jobs, for the 2015-16 fiscal year.
  • While the UAB Health System stands as a colossus on its own, it is best known as a national leader in patient care, research and training. UAB Hospital is the nation’s third largest public hospital and claims a global leadership position in precision medicine, which provides individualized care based on a patient’s genetic makeup.
UAB Health System
The UAB Health System is an important component of The University of Alabama System and stands out as a national leader in patient care, research, and training.