Foreign students in UK contribute 10 times the cost of hosting them: study

Vidya Ram London | Updated on January 11, 2018

People walk through Clare College at Cambridge University in eastern England October 23, 2010. REUTERS/Paul Hackett (BRITAIN - Tags: EDUCATION) - RTXTSHB   -  Reuters

Over 2 lakh international scholars arrive in Britain every year

Pressure continued to pile on the British Prime Minister Theresa May to review her policy towards international students, after it emerged that they have a positive economic impact on every constituency of the United Kingdom, contributing a net of £20.3 billion to the economy.

The research, published by the Higher Education Policy Institute and Kaplan International Pathways, involved detailed analysis of the costs and benefits of the over 230,000 international students who arrive in the UK every year. It found that the benefits of students from both within and outside the EU were spread across the country.

Positive impact

While they had the greatest impact on the London economy, generating £4.6 billion net, they had a positive impact across the country, including deprived regions in the north-east.

While EU students had a positive net impact of £68,000 on the economy, non-EU students had a £95,000 impact.

“This research fills important gaps in our knowledge, while we knew that the benefits of hosting international students are large, we did not previously know how limited the costs are,” said Gavan Conlon of London Economics.

“International students bring economic benefits to the UK that are worth ten times the cost of hosting them,” said Nick Hillman, Director of HEPI, who called on the government to review the new evidence with the seriousness it merited. “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,” he added.

Immigration targets

The research has boosted calls for international students to be taken out of net migration targets: a policy which many believe is injurious to the university sector, creating the perception that Britain was an unwelcoming place for foreign students, and encouraging tougher immigration policies for students.

While many senior government figures – including Home Secretary Amber Rudd – are said to be in favour of removing students from the numbers, the Prime Minister (a former home secretary) has remained implacably opposed to change: An effort by the House of Lords to bring in change was thwarted at the last minute last year.

However, even ahead of the latest research, media reports suggested the government might be forced to concede in order to risk an embarrassing legislative defeat, via an amendment to be introduced to immigration legislation that will pass through Parliament later this year.

For now at least, the government has continued to maintain its position that there are currently no caps on international students, and that it had commissioned the Migration Advisory Committee to assess the impact of EU and non-EU student, research which would inform future policy.

Published on January 11, 2018

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