International students “worth £25 billion” to UK

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Credit: Caitriana Nicholson

Hamish Morrison
Investigations Editor

Research conducted by Oxford Economics on behalf of Universities UK has found that international students were worth £25.8 billion in gross output for the UK economy in 2014-15.

The report, published in March, states that international students, from both inside and outside of the EU, make up 19% of all students at UK universities. 28% of all international students come from outside of the EU. Students from outside of the UK contributed to 14% of UK universities’ total income, totalling approximately £4.8 billion in tuition fees.

International students spent an estimated £6.1 billion, with the vast majority being spent off-campus, mostly on transport, food, and other essentials. The report also states that the total spending by non-EU students was equivalent to the creation of 33 jobs for every 100 students from outside the EU. It was also found that visitors of students contributed an estimated £1 billion to the economy.

The report gives a breakdown of the distribution of students in England, with the majority based in London, but gives no indication as to the dispersal throughout the UK as a whole. This comes in the wake of the Brexit vote, amid uncertainty over the future of EU and non-EU citizens alike. The University of Glasgow ow saw a 7% drop in the number of EU applicants this year. A spokesman for the University of Glasgow told The Glasgow Guardian, “International admissions vary from year to year – currently there are 5,285 international students studying at the University of Glasgow. “International students, on average, pay around £16,000 for their tuition. We can say that 53% of tuition fees come from international students from outside the EU.

However, in addition to this the University also receives teaching grants from the Scottish Funding Council for Scots and EU students, which was £85.5m in 15- 16. Therefore income from teaching and tuition fees is roughly £244m, meaning international fees account for around 35% of all income for teaching.” When asked to comment SRC president Ameer Ibrahim said: ” Recent calls from government to look to reduce the number of international students to the UK would be highly detrimental for a number of reasons.

There is clear evidence to outline that international students substantially contribute to the economy and enhance culture by increasing diversity within society. The opportunity for prospective students to continue to enter into academic environments where you can meet a culturally vibrant community is one of the most positive aspects of going to University. Views by government to reduce the number of international students are both socially and economically regressive.

Due to political and financial uncertainty globally, academic institutions must look further in relation to financial sustainability than following an upward trend of increasing fees annually for international students, which is detrimental to students who may wish to study here in the future.”