New report highlights £28.8 billion value of international students to the UK economy

09 September 2021
Posted by Study Group

New report highlights £28.8 billion value of international students to the UK economy

Study Group is delighted to welcome a new report published by the Higher Education Policy Institute (HEPI) and Universities UK International (UUKi), with research from London Economics, which reiterates the huge contribution of international students to the UK’s economic prosperity. According to the report, every part of the UK is financially better off – on average by £390 per person – because of international students.

Just one year’s intake of incoming international students is worth £28.8 billion to the UK economy. The analysis also confirms the benefits of hosting international students significantly outweigh the costs of international students, including their use of public services, which are put at £2.9 billion.

The report builds on previous work led by HEPI and provides the results for every one of the 650 Westminster constituencies. Highlights include the impact of international students on the economies of Sheffield, London, Cardiff and Glasgow - cities that are among those to deliver the greatest financial contributions. The contribution to the UK economy of international students in the 2018/19 intake resident in Cardiff Central (£181 million); and Glasgow Central (£171 million); Sheffield Central ( £290 million) and Holborn and St Pancras (£243 million) - cities where Study Group operates International Study Centres with our partner universities of Cardiff, Sheffield, Strathclyde and Royal Holloway Universities, as well as the London-based study centres of Huddersfield and Coventry Universities.

Study Group CEO Emma Lancaster said:

“We are delighted to see this new report once again confirm the outstanding positive impact on our national and local economies of international students, and we are proud to play a vital role in this inward investment of both finances and talent. Study Group provides high-quality programmes for international students across the UK, including in a number of those cities, which this report shows benefit most from their study choices, and we are keen to continue to work with universities, local communities, sector bodies and government to ensure these students receive the experience and welcome they fully deserve.”

The report is published as the UK has committed itself to a positive International Education Strategy aimed at strengthening this vital sector. The International Education Strategy includes a target of increasing the number of international students in the UK to at least 600,000 by 2030 and the value of education exports to £35 billion per year by 2030.

Study Group supports calls by Universities UK International and HEPI to build on this success and to actively promote the UK as a welcoming, diverse and accessible study destination. Our asks include:

  • ensuring the success of the new Graduate route
  • reducing the financial barriers for international students
  • supporting the improvement of English language
  • ability continuing to strengthen responsiveness to the voice of current and potential international students
  • and ensuring the UK carries out regular competitive global benchmarking with real-time data to ensure policy interventions closely match student needs.

Nick Hillman, Director of HEPI, commented:

“This report confirms higher education is one of the UK’s greatest export earners. 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.”

Dr Gavan Conlon, Partner at London Economics, also confirmed the benefits and opportunities for further strengthening international education in the UK:

“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.”

The HEPI report is available here. 

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