International Students Worth More Than £22 Billion Net To UK Economy, Report Reveals

Research published by the Higher Education Policy Institute (HEPI) and Kaplan International Pathways has revealed that international students in the UK are worth more than ten times more than the costs associated with supporting their studies; £68,000 per typical EU-based student, and £95,00 per non-EU student – a total of more than £22 billion overall.

The figures are based on the 2015/16 cohort of international students, and may well surprise those who believe that foreign students are a drain on the UK’s educational resources.

HEPI reports that nearly 1 in 5 higher education students in the UK are from overseas; around 438,000 in total; and measures their contribution to the economy in terms of tuition fees, “knock-on” effects across the UK economy, and income associated with the spending of friends and families making visits to see them.

HEPI also pointed out that its reporting did not take into account several other factors that would be likely to increase the overall contribution of foreign students, such as tax and national insurance contributions, the effects of “soft” diplomatic power and “wider cultural and societal impacts”, and the longer term investment business and trade links that students completing their studies within the UK would be likely to bring.

The revelations contained within the report are likely to add weight to the increasingly popular view that foreign students should not be included in the UK’s migration targets, which was an underlying reason for the commissioning of the report. Prime Minister Theresa May is already said to be under pressure to review the targets, although the Home Office recently issued a statement commenting:

“We have no plans to take international students out of the net migration figures. Including them does not act to the detriment of students or the education sector and since 2010 we have seen the number of student visas increase by 24 per cent.”

HEPI’s analysis focused on the 231,065 students who began their studies at a UK higher education institution in 2015/16, taking into account the economic impact of the entire duration of their studies. There has been a pronounced rise in the number of foreign students studying in the UK since 2000/01, when there were just over 100,000 overseas students overall.

The country with the largest cohort of students in the UK is China, contributing 62,015 of the foreign student population, with the US and India contributing just over, and just under 10,00 students respectively. Within the EU, Germany (7,250), France (6,995) and Italy (6,055) contributed the most. 47% were taking higher level degrees i.e. Masters, whilst 43% were first year undergraduates. The largest proportion of students, some 55,000, chose to study in London, which receives a net economic benefit as a result of £4.4bn. Other regions to receive a significant economic benefit include Scotland (£1.94bn), the South East (£2.44bn), West Midlands (£1.95bn), Yorkshire and the Humber (£1.59bn), Wales (£0.9bn) and Northern Ireland (£0.17bn).

The research shows that, before costs, non-EU domiciled students would contribute £102,000 overall to the UK economy, whilst non-EU domiciled students slightly less: £87,000. The difference is explained by the higher tuition fees levied on non-EU domiciled students.

In total, non-EU students contribute £17.5bn of the £22.6bn overall total, with EU students making up the remaining £5.1bn. The costs associated with providing higher education to overseas students are centred around teaching grants, student support, and other public costs.

Are you thinking about the possibility of studying overseas? Whilst it can be an expensive undertaking, with high tuition fees, the benefits can last a lifetime, and the experience is a once in a lifetime opportunity, for yourself, your children, or somebody you may know.

In order to reduce the overall costs, it is always worth consulting a broker to avoid paying unnecessary fees when sending money internationally, either to pay for accommodation, tuition fees or to support loved ones. Using The Money Cloud you can quickly find the best deals available on the market, the live, real time exchange rates used, guides to help smooth the process, and even your own personal account to record all your transactions, and apply to use different brokers in minutes.