A new report today highlights that international students from countries like India add £22.6 billion to the UK economy annually, indicating an overall benefit to the country 10 times greater than costs.
The Higher Education Policy Institute (HEPI) and Kaplan International Pathways released ‘The costs and benefits of international students by parliamentary constituency’ research in an attempt to push the government to introduce more welcoming policies for international students to stem falling numbers in recent years.
The analysis concentrated on the cohort of international first-year students attending UK universities in 2015-16, when Indian students comprised the third-largest group of overseas students in the UK at 9,095, after China’s 62,105 and 10,545 from the US.
According to Home Office data released late last year, a trend of falling student numbers from India was reversed with a 27 per cent hike in 2017 over 2016.
The HEPI now hopes that its research would add further impetus to demands for international student numbers to be removed from the overall annual immigration figures set by the Theresa May led Conservative party government.
“Trying to persuade the Home Office that international students nearly always benefit the UK can feel like banging one’s head against a brick wall.
“Our work includes all the potential costs and conclusively proves these are small compared to the huge benefits,” said Nick Hillman, director of HEPI.
The institute submitted its report to the UK’s Migration Advisory Committee (MAC), which has been directed by the UK Home Office to conduct its own assessment on the impact of international students on the economy.
The HEPI wants MAC to use its data and report earlier than the planned deadline of September this year.
Linda Cowan, managing director of Kaplan International Pathways, warned that the UK was showing signs of losing ground to countries like Australia in recruiting international students.
“The challenge now is to ensure the UK provides a compelling and attractive offer as the best place to study. To be successful, we need a bold commitment from government as it considers the Immigration Bill to show the UK welcomes international students more than ever. A key step would be to stop counting students as immigrants in net migration statistics,” she said.
The analysis highlights that on top of tuition fees, spending by students from European and non-European countries has become a major factor in supporting local economies.
London alone gains £4.6 billion a year, with Sheffield the biggest beneficiary in proportion to its economy.
The latest data collated by London Economics for the report calculated the financial contribution of overseas students, such as spending on tuition and living expenses, and balanced that against costs, including the extra pressure on local services and non-repayment of loans.
The report seeks to provide comprehensive evidence that overseas students are a significant benefit and that students from outside the European Union (EU), who pay higher fees, are worth £102,000 pounds to the UK economy.