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Foreign students boost Northern Ireland economy by £170m: report

A study by a leading education think-tank has found that international students provide an annual boost of £170m to Northern Ireland's economy.

The study by the Higher Education Policy Institute examined the intake of international students for the year 2015/16, and found a total of 231,065 enrolled in undergraduate and masters courses across the UK.

Northern Ireland was the region least favoured by travelling students, with a total number of 2,445.

London was the region with the most students, with an intake of 55,455.

Scotland saw an intake of 25,380 students, while the South East received 26,775.

How international students were distributed around the UK / Credit: HEPI

The report examined the financial contribution of students based on tuition fees, accommodation and other living costs.

Balanced against the costs overseas students are likely to place on the economy, the report found students from outside the EU can make an average net contribution of £95,000 to the UK economy over the duration of their study.

The higher contribution is down to the fact overseas students typically pay higher fees.

On average international students made a £31.3m net contribution for each of the UK's 650 parliamentary constituencies - which works out at an average of £310 per member of the resident population.

In Northern Ireland, where there are less international students, this works out at £92 per member of the resident population.

Northern Irish constituencies made up half of the bottom 20 when it came to net financial impact to different areas.

Responding to the report, director of the Higher Education Policy Institute Nick Hillman said: "International students bring economic benefits to the UK that are worth ten times the costs of hosting them.

"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.

"In the past, they have not accepted figures on the benefits on the grounds that they ignore the costs. Our work, in contrast, includes all the potential costs and conclusively proves these are small compared to the huge benefits."

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