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International students benefit UK economy by billions

Released: 24.05.23

International students in the South West generate £2.2bn for the UK economy

A recent study by London Economics and partners revealed that international students studying in the 2021/22 academic year benefitted the UK economy by approximately £41.9 billion (gross). 

The study conducted by the Higher Education Policy Institute, Universities UK International, and Kaplan International Pathways looked at how bringing international higher education (IHE) students benefitted the UK economy. 

The report found that for every 20 IHE students, the benefit to the economy equated to £1 million, and on average, per each parliamentary constituency, IHE students benefitted the economy by £58 million.  

The study showed that in the 2021/22 academic year, 66% of IHE students in their first year of study in the UK were enrolled in taught postgraduate courses, 25% were enrolled in their first undergraduate course, and 4% were enrolled in postgraduate research programmes. 

Jamie Arrowsmith, Director of Universities UK International said:   

This report further highlights the positive contribution that international students make to the UK. They offer both a cultural and social benefit to our country and make a significant contribution to our economy. We should be proud that our universities continue to attract students from all over the world. It is vital that the UK remains an open and welcoming destination for international students, and that their contribution is recognised and valued. Higher education is one of the UK’s most important and successful exports – but it is truly unique, in that alongside generating a significant economic contribution to the UK our universities have a hugely positive global impact, creating opportunity for millions of learners and helping address some of the most pressing global challenges. 

In 2021/22, Plymouth had approximately 1,180 IHE students across its higher education institutions, and they brought an approximate economic benefit of £128.8 million. In the South West, the economy benefitted by £2.2 billion. 

But it isn’t just the positive economic impact that IHE students bring. The report also stated that approximately 92% of IHE students were domiciled outside of the EU, with China, India, Nigeria, and the USA being the highest number of IHE student enrolments in the UK. 

IHE students bring a wealth of culture and diverse experiences which also benefit the UK, helping to foster a diverse environment, develop better intercultural understandings, and opening the door to new perspectives. 

Plymouth Marjon University has welcomed international students from over 60 countries and has partnerships with 26 institutions in 18 countries. Students can apply for a full programme of study or choose a short-stay study option for a term at the University. Degree programmes are typically shorter in the UK, meaning IHE students can graduate sooner. 

Professor Ian Luke, Deputy Vice-Chancellor with a responsibility for international students at Plymouth Marjon University, said: 

“There is no doubting the positive impact international activity can have in terms of education inclusiveness, community and in-country development, social mobility, and improving job prospects. The cultural and social contribution that international students can make to a university, city, and region is significant. Here at Marjon, we work with international partners and students from across the Globe and this helps us to inspire and prepare the University community to collaborate in a global society, benefitting from such collaboration and ensuring our graduates thrive in the global workplace.” 

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