International students are worth Dh146 billion to the UK, study finds

Prasun Sonwalkar/London
Filed on September 9, 2021

Non-EU students' annual fees are at least three times more, besides other expenses such as living costs

A new analysis of the financial impact of high fee-paying international students on the British economy published on Wednesday says their contribution is worth £28.8 (Dh146.09) billion to the United Kingdom's (UK) economy annually.

Typically, international students from outside the European Union (EU) pay at least three times the annual fees that are applicable to British and EU students, besides bearing other costs such as accommodation and travel.

Non-EU students have been at the centre of Britain’s immigration policy in recent years.

The analysis by Universities UK International (UUKi) and the Higher Education Policy Institute (HEPI) complements previous reports that highlight the contribution of international students.

Several universities, departments and the viability of some courses depend on the revenue stream of international students.

The analysis says that every part of the UK is financially better off – on average by £390 (Dh1,978) per person because of international students.

International students in Sheffield, Nottingham, London, Cardiff, Glasgow and Newcastle are among those who deliver the greatest financial contributions.

The analysis finds that 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 (Dh14.71) billion.

The net economic benefit of £25.9 (Dh131.37) billion is spread across every part of the UK and the report provides the results for every one of the 650 Westminster constituencies.

For example, their contribution to the economy in the 2018-19 intake resident in Sheffield Central is £290 (Dh1,471) million Other notable results include Nottingham South (£261 {Dh1,324} million); Holborn and St Pancras (£243 {Dh1,233} million); Newcastle upon Tyne East (£240 {Dh1,217} million); East Ham (£217 {Dh1,100} million); Cambridge (£214 {Dh1,085} million); Cardiff Central (£181 {Dh938} million); and Glasgow Central (£171(Dh867} million).

Nick Hillman, director of HEPI, said: “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.”

He added: “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. The policy environment is, in many respects, more conducive than it was, with the government gradually becoming more positive about international students.”

Vivienne Stern of Universities UK International said: “While there has been a growing realisation of the tremendous social and cultural benefits of international students, this study provides a stark reminder of their financial importance to communities across the UK, economic recovery and the levelling up agenda.”

She added, “We now need fresh ideas and stronger momentum to achieve the UK Government’s international education strategy target of attracting at least 600,000 international students every year by 2030 and the good this will bring to everyone.”

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