•Using international data on universities we study their impact on regional growth.
•Increases in universities are positively and robustly associated with higher growth.
•This effect spills over into neighbouring regions within the same country.
•Increasing regional human capital and innovation matter help mediate this effect.
•The economic benefits of university expansion are likely to exceed the costs.
The economic impact of universities: Evidence from across the globe
Anna Valero, John Van Reenen
Economics of Education Review
Volume 68, February 2019, Pages 53-67