International students coming to study at UK universities generate more than 25 billion pounds to the British economy and provide a significant boost to jobs and local businesses, according to a new study released today.
The latest analysis, conducted for representative organisation Universities UK by Oxford Economics, shows that in 2014-15 spending by international students supported 206,600 jobs in university towns and cities across the UK.
It said international students paid an estimated 4.8 billion pounds in tuition fees to UK universities. This accounts for over 14 per cent of total university income.
“Some 88 per cent – 4.2 billion pounds – of this fee income was paid by students from outside the EU. As well as university fees and accommodation, international students spent 5.4 billion pounds off-campus on goods and services,” the research found.
Visitors to international students in the UK spent an estimated 520 million pounds – benefiting in particular the transport, hotels, hospitality, cultural, recreational and sports attraction sectors – generating an estimated knock-on impact of one billion pounds in gross output, it said.
“Taking their university payments, off-campus spending, and the spending of their visitors together, international students generated 25.8 billion pounds in gross output,” the study found.
The data will add pressure on the UK Home Office to ease restrictions on international students in the face of significantly declining student numbers from India, a concern repeatedly highlighted by the Indian government.
“They [the UK] have to realise that when international students come here [Britain] they subsidise the educational costs here. We already have a reality where the quantum of students coming into the UK is declining and other jurisdictions are available. The UK also is a part of the competitive market in that area,” Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had told PTI during his recent visit to London.
The Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA), the UK’s official agency for the collection, analysis and dissemination of quantitative information about higher education, earlier this year said that while Indians remain the third-largest category of students from outside the EU they registered a decrease of 9 per cent in 2015-16 over the previous year.
“India saw the largest percentage decrease, at 44 per cent between 2011/12 and 2015/16. In numbers, this meant that in 2015/16, the number of student enrolments domiciled from India was 13,150 less than in 2011/12. It is worth noting however, that the decline in student enrolments domiciled from India began a year earlier, in 2010/11,’ the HESA had said in its analysis.
The Universities UK briefing released today urges the government to ensure that its strategies in a post-Brexit economy should recognise the “fundamental importance” of international students.
The UK is currently the second most popular destination for international students after the US.
Dame Julia Goodfellow, president of Universities UK, called for a “welcoming climate” for the UK to maintain its lead as a destination for international students.