International students boost UK economy by £41.9 billion

New figures show the economic benefit of international students rose from £31.3 billion to £41.9 billion between 2018/19 and 2021/22.

A new report,The costs and benefits of international higher education students to the UK, published jointly by Universities UK International (UUKi), the Higher Education Policy Institute (HEPI) and Kaplan International Pathways in collaboration with London Economics, reveals the growing importance of international students to local economies throughout the UK.

The net economic impact of international students has seen a dramatic rise over the past few years – up 58% since 2015/16 (£23.6 billion to £37.4 billion). One reason for this is the 68% rise in the number of new international students (350,145 in 2021/22) from non-EU countries since 2018/19.

Data from the report shows that every 11 non-EU students generate £1 million worth of net economic impact for the UK economy – or £96,000 per non-EU domiciled student.

Among the other key findings were:

  • International students in Glasgow, London, Sheffield, Nottingham and Newcastle are among those to deliver the greatest financial contributions.
  • On average, each of the 650 parliamentary constituencies in the UK is £58 million better off because of international students – equivalent to approximately £560 per citizen.
  • Even when accounting for dependants and other costs, international students are a huge net contributor to the UK economy.

Jamie Arrowsmith, director of universities UK International said: “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.”