From education to employment

UK revenue from education related exports and TNE activity

Today, new figures have revealed that Britain’s education sector remains one of its most lucrative international assets, with exports overseas generating almost £20 billion for the UK economy.

This is a 26% increase since 2010, placing the education revenue alongside industries such as automobiles and advertising. The revenue includes over £13b from higher education as our universities sector continues to be one of those leading the way on the world stage.

Education Secretary Damian Hinds said:

“The UK has always provided world class education and these figures underline the importance of it to our economy – cementing our status as a global leader in this sector.

“International university students constitute an important earnings source for our universities but they are also an important part of Britain’s cultural influence in the world. As well as this, there are big growth opportunities in areas like education technology, services and satellite or partner campuses.

“Education is a fundamental part of our offer to the world, and we will work to maintain and grow this in the years to come.

Vivienne Stern, Director of Universities UK International, said: 

“These figures highlight the hugely beneficial economic impact of the UK higher education sector and our international students, including students that come to the UK to study and those studying on UK programmes overseas.

“While the growth shown between 2015 and 2016 highlights that a UK university education is still in high demand, growth in the UK’s provision of higher education to international students has stagnated following changes to student migration policy  made in 2012. The UK’s growth has not kept pace with other major study destinations such as Australia, New Zealand and Canada.

“The government’s upcoming International Education Strategy offers a real opportunity to rectify this plateau in growth. We hope that recent proposals  to extend the time international students can stay in the UK to look for work after graduating for a period of up to one year for PhD students and six months for others are introduced swiftly by government. However, we also believe it is necessary to go further, with a two-year Global Graduate Talent visa, that would make the UK more attractive to students and would allow a wider range of employers, in all parts of the UK, to benefit from access to talented graduates from around the world.”

Statistics on the estimated revenue generated by education related exports and transnational education (TNE) activity in 2016.

Estimates of the value of education-related exports and transnational education (TNE) activity for 2016.

TNE activity includes education programmes that take place outside the UK, either through partner institutions or directly through distance learning or international campuses.


Main text: education exports

PDF, 1.24MB, 10 pages

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Main tables: education exports

MS Excel Spreadsheet, 54.2KB

Technical document: education exports

PDF, 319KB, 15 pages

Pre-release access list: education exports



Data on UK revenue from education related exports and TNE activity for 2015 is also available.

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