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A Contribution of £42bn by International Students

clock iconCreated At:16 May, 2023
write iconCreated By:Hagar Samir

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Many stakeholders in the United Kingdom have announced that the country’s economy has been boosted by £41.9bn only in the academic year of 2021/22, which is a huge number and a great improvement. 

By adding the total cost of Universities UK International, HEPI, and Kaplan International Pathways with international higher education students, the benefits increase by a huge amount, and the cost of the students to taxpayers was just £4.4bn. 

This £41.9bn is a huge deal because it has risen from £31.3bn in the academic year of 2018/19, which brings the net economic impact of each student to around £98,000.

“[International students] offer both a cultural and social benefit to our country and make a significant contribution to our economy,” said Jamie Arrowsmith, chief executive of UUKi.

The UK Government also added, “We should be proud that our universities continue to attract students from all over the world. It is vital that the UK remains an open and welcoming destination for international students and that their contribution is recognised and valued,” 

It is also stated that there is a “benefit-to-cost” ratio of 9.4.

Gavan Conlon, a partner at London Economics, noted, “International students put nearly 10 times more into the economy than they take out – boosting both local and national economic wellbeing,”

After discussing the cost and effect of hosting international students, it has been stated that there has been an increase of over £1bn since 2018/19.

This report states that the increase is mainly because of the urgent need to provide public services for both sides equally, students and dependants. This cost has also increased per head due to the usual increase in general prices, in addition to an increase in the non-EU cohorts. 

Non-EU students own the majority of the net impact on the economy, with £33.5bn being generated by them, despite having a lot of EU students applying and studying in the United Kingdom. 

Brexit’s “dramatic” effect on the sector is also mentioned in the report, as EU students now only make up one-in-12 international students instead of the usual one in four, where the impact was £96,000. This also shows that every 11 non-EU students contribute around £1m. 

This was so much higher; every student used to generate about £125,000, which means that this £1m used to come from only nine students instead of 11. 

Andrea Nolan, the convener of Universities Scotland’s International Committee and principal of Edinburgh Napier University, stated, “This important report makes clear the vital contribution international students make to Scottish society and to our economy.”

She also added, “The striking element of the report is the findings demonstrating the benefits international students generate across the whole of Scotland.”

Edinburgh East and Aberdeen North feature in the top ten constituencies by looking at the net impact, which students give almost £268m and £241m, respectively. 

In addition, Nottingham South peaked in the top ten with £271, Sheffield Central with £273m, and Newcastle Upon Tyne East with £264m. 

London had an overall net impact of £131m. 

This report emphasizes that this is the highest contribution ever made by international students, and any change to the rules on matters like dependants and post-study work would be heavily felt. 

Nick Hillman, director of HEPI, reported, “It is vital that [any changes] are based on evidence rather than a whim, so this report is designed to strengthen the existing evidence base.”

He added, “We hope it will be read by every candidate for every major political party in every constituency in the run-up to the next election.”

There was a warning by Linda Cowan, managing director of Kaplan International Pathways, that there is success shown in the report that “cannot be taken for granted”. 

Cowan also added, “We need better data on the employment outcomes of international students, consistent policy, a strong offer, and a unified message of welcome.”

“Higher education is one of the UK’s most important and successful exports – but it is truly unique, in that alongside generating a significant economic contribution to the UK, our universities have a hugely positive global impact, creating opportunity for millions of learners and helping address some of the most pressing global challenges,” Arrowsmith added.


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