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Foreign students bring almost £26 billion, over 200,000 jobs to the UK

Thirty-three jobs are generated in the UK economy for every 100 university students from outside the EU.

Universities UK’s new report says foreign students bring £25.8 billion (US$31.5 billion) for the economy and support more than 200,000 jobs in the UK.

According to the report, the 437,000 foreign students who attended UK universities generated £25.8 billion from spending both on and off campus altogether in 2014-2015.

This spending then supported 206,600 full-time equivalent (FTE) jobs in university towns and cities nationally, according to the Universities UK-commissioned research by Oxford Economics.

Eighty percent of these jobs (165,900) are attributable to non-European Union (EU) students.

That means, 33 jobs are generated in the UK economy for every 100 university students from outside the EU.

The universities advocacy group president Dame Julia Goodfellow told Press Association these numbers showed the “enormous economic contribution” foreign students make to jobs and communities.

The sum comprises the money students spent on tuition fees and university life on campus, as well as the amounts paid in living and socialising off campus such as for transport, culture, sports and recreation.

The report also found foreign students paid for the following during this period:

  • £4.8 billion in tuition fees
  • £5.4 billion for off-campus goods, services and activities
  • £1.2 billion to the transport industry
  • £750 million to the retail industry
  • £520 million from family and friends’ visits, which include hotel, hospitality, culture, etc

The economic and employment activity generated by foreign students’ off-campus spending brought £1 billion in tax revenues, equivalent to the salaries of 31,700 nurses or 25,000 policemen.

Despite Brexit and its potential implications, the UK remains a top study destination for international students, according to Student.com founder and Chief Executive Officer Luke Nolan.

“This year, the number of enquiries about the UK we have received from international students increased exponentially compared to last year. Students from around the world tell us they are drawn to the UK for its high-quality universities and its rich cultural and historical cities.

“London continues to be the most popular destination amongst our foreign students, though other urban centres such as Glasgow and Edinburgh are seeing a particular spike this year,” Nolan said.

Goodfellow says this growing sector and the money it brings in becomes more crucial as Britain moves closer to its self-set deadline to withdraw from the EU.

“To do this, we must present a welcoming climate for genuine foreign students and ensure visa and immigration rules are proportionate and communicated appropriately,” she says.

“This will be even more important as the UK looks to enhance its place in the world post-Brexit.”

A government spokesman acknowledged the “important contribution” EU and international students, staff and researchers bring to UK and said there had been no “… plans to cap the number of international students who can come to study in the UK.”

“We will continue to attract the best and brightest to work or study in Britain, but that process must be managed properly so that our immigration system serves the national interest,” he said.

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