International students bring £26bn to UK economy

A generic stock image of medical students celebrating their graduation from the University of Manchester.

Every part of the UK is better off financially – around £390 per person on average – because of international students. Photo: PA

International students make a positive contribution of £25.9 billion to the UK economy. Research shows amid news that the government is looking to curb the number of foreign students who can stay after they graduate.

According to a study by the Higher Education Policy Institute in partnership with Universities UK, every part of the UK is financially better off – by £390 per person on average – due to the contribution of international students through fees and expenses.

Home Secretary Suella Braverman is expected to consider measures to limit the number of dependents who can accompany international students to the UK while she reviews migration rules.

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Braverman has previously suggested that the number of foreign students coming to the UK to study is too high.

In early October, she told the Sun on Sunday: “We have a very high number of students coming to this country and we have a really high number of dependents.

“Students come with their student visas, but they bring family members who can piggyback their student visas.

“These people come here, they don’t necessarily work, or they work in low-skill jobs, and they don’t contribute to the growth of our economy.”

Universities UK and Universities UK International are calling on the Home Secretary to retract her comments on international students and to reaffirm the centrality of international students and their families to their own plans for the UK’s economic future.

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The research shows that by limiting the number of international students in the UK, every MP loses revenue that these students bring to their own constituencies.

Fareham, Braverman’s constituency, could lose up to £20.2million if international student numbers are capped.

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In the case of Prime Minister Liz Truss’ South West Norfolk constituency, the loss in revenue could reach £16million.

“The fact that so many international students are choosing to study in the UK is a real success story and the UK benefits in many ways from hosting them. International students contribute to the UK’s global links in trade, politics and research, and also make huge economic contributions,” said Vivienne Stern, CEO of Universities UK.

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“It would be bizarre for a government focused on growth to try to reduce the attractiveness of international students, especially considering they contribute almost £26 billion to the UK economy – and that it does so across all parts of the United Kingdom is distributed.

“It’s even more bizarre if the recent surge in international student numbers was a direct result of pro-growth government policies and visa changes. We urge the government not to take such a step backwards,” she added.

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