Belfast Telegraph

International students 'making enormous economic contribution' to UK

International students to the UK help generate more than £25 billion for the economy, according to new figures.

Their spending supported 206,600 jobs in university towns and cities in 2014-2015, according to Universities UK-commissioned research by Oxford Economics.

The figures, which focus on the impact of international students to the UK, put a value of £25.8 billion generated for the economy in 2014-2015.

This was made up of the money the students spent on fees and university life while on campus plus the amounts they spent on living and socialising away from their studies which can include transport, culture, sport and recreation.

It also takes in the money friends and relatives from abroad pay out during their UK visits to see them.

Universities UK president Dame Julia Goodfellow said these students are making an "enormous economic contribution" to jobs and communities.

The spending of international students provides an export boost as it is additional to that of UK residents.

This spending was responsible for £10.8 billion of UK export earnings in 2014-15.

Apart from tuition fees these students also paid out £5.4 billion in 2014-15 on a wide range of goods, services and activities they used when they were not on campus.

The research found spending by international students added £1.2 billion to the transport industry and £750 million to the retail industry.

There were 437,000 international students studying in the UK in 2014 to 2015.

They made up 19% of all students registered at UK universities.

The people who come to visit them in the UK spent an estimated £520 million on various products and services especially in the transport, hotel, hospitality, cultural, recreational and sports attraction sectors.

Only the US is a bigger draw for international students in higher education and there is scope for the UK to build on this potential growth area, according to Dame Julia.

She said: "To do this, we must present a welcoming climate for genuine international students and ensure that visa and immigration rules are proportionate and communicated appropriately.

"This will be even more important as the UK looks to enhance its place in the world post-Brexit."

A Government spokesman said: "EU and international students, staff and researchers make an important contribution to our higher education sector and we want that to continue.

"The UK has a long established system that supports and attracts global talent, at all stages of their career.

"We will continue to attract the best and brightest to work or study in Britain, but that process must be managed properly so that our immigration system serves the national interest.

"The UK remains one of the most popular destinations for students globally and we want this to continue, which is why there are no plans to cap the number of international students who can come to study in the UK."

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