New @HEPI_news and @UUKIntl analysis shows that just one year’s intake of incoming international students is worth £28.8 billion to the UK economy
Today’s report, The costs and benefits of international higher education students to the UK economy, published by the Higher Education Policy Institute (HEPI) and Universities UK International (UUKi), with research from London Economics, finds the benefits of hosting international students significantly outweighs the costs of international students, including their use of public services, which are put at £2.9 billion.
The net economic benefit of £25.9 billion is spread across every part of the UK and the report provides the results for every one of the 650 Westminster constituencies. For example, the contribution to the UK economy of international students in the 2018/19 intake resident in Sheffield Central is £290 million. Other notable results include Nottingham South (£261 million); Holborn and St Pancras (£243 million); Newcastle upon Tyne East (£240 million); East Ham (£217 million); Cambridge (£214 million); Cardiff Central (£181 million); and Glasgow Central (£171 million).
The analysis lands as international student numbers at UK universities have been hit by the uncertainty caused by Covid-19 and changes to the tuition fee structure for EU students after Brexit – EU student acceptances to undergraduate degree courses were 56% lower in early August 2021 than at the same time last year.
Universities UK International and HEPI are calling for more to be done to promote the UK as a welcoming, diverse and accessible study destination. This could include ensuring the success of the new Graduate route, reducing the financial barriers for international students, and supporting the improvement of English language ability.
Nick Hillman, Director of HEPI, said:
“This report confirms higher education is one of the UK’s greatest export earners. The benefits reach every part of the UK, from Land’s End to John O’Groats. But international students do not just bring financial benefits. They also bring educational benefits by making our campuses more diverse and exciting places to be.
"To make the most of these benefits, we need to provide a warm welcome, ensure our educational offer remains competitive and help international students secure fulfilling careers after study. The policy environment is, in many respects, more conducive than it was, with the Government gradually becoming more positive about international students. But the current halving in the number of EU students confirms future success cannot be taken for granted.”
Vivienne Stern, Director of Universities UK International, said:
“While there has been a growing realisation of the tremendous social and cultural benefits of international students, this study provides a stark reminder of their financial importance to communities across the UK, economic recovery and the levelling up agenda.
"We now need fresh ideas and stronger momentum to achieve the UK Government’s international education strategy target of attracting at least 600,000 international students every year by 2030 and the good this will bring to everyone.”
Dr Gavan Conlon, Partner at London Economics, said:
“The net economic impact associated with the 2018/19 cohort of international students stood at £25.9 billion, with substantial benefits accrued throughout every region of the UK. After Brexit and the pandemic, the long-term challenges facing the UK economy have never been greater. Built on a world-class higher education sector, international students represent a huge growth opportunity to the UK economy. Every effort should be made by the UK Government to further develop this crucial export market.”
UCAS Chief Executive Clare Marchant said:
“International students contribute so much to our campuses, bringing knowledge and culture from around the world to the UK. UCAS supports students making applications from 200 countries and territories around the world each year, as students want to be part of our communities and study at our world-class institutions.
“Today’s report from HEPI and UUKI’s report today clearly shows the economic value that international students bring to the UK. There are more positive signs ahead in the most recent UCAS undergraduate data published earlier this week and we are proud to play a trusted, independent role in promoting access to UK HE in the increasingly competitive, global market. A record 46,610 students from outside the EU are about to start an undergraduate degree in the UK, 5% more than in 2020 and continuing over a decade of increases.
“Later this month, we’ll be launching a new platform for international students, giving them everything they need to make an informed decision about studying in the UK in one place. It will support aims of the International Education Strategy, making the country stand out as an accessible destination for international students and help universities and colleges grow and diversify the range of applications they receive, as we focus particularly on new and emerging international markets.”