International students are Britain's £20bn asset
Asset, not illegal immigrant. Source: Shutterstock

As if we needed another report to tell us that international students are big economic and social boons to the UK, a new report from the Higher Education Policy Institute has found that they are (surprise, surprise) hugely beneficial to the country.

Not only is the international education sector worth £20bn to the UK economy – in fact, each international student is worth about 10 times more to the UK economy than the costs taxpayers have to foot, according to Times Higher Education.

They’re also supporting local economies – the sandwich shops, the bike shops, the taxi firms – through their spending, without which many local companies might go bust. Each constituency on average was found to gain £31.3m. London alone reaps £4.6bn while Sheffield is the biggest beneficiary in proportion to its economy, the BBC reported.

The think tank’s director, Nick Hillman, says the figures support calls to remove students from immigration targets.

The international student cohort is mostly made up of postgraduates and students from China, the most common country of origin. It’s one of the top study destination for university students worldwide – around 230,000 students arrive each year to enrol in university courses in the UK.

Yet despite all the money and benefits they bring, the UK’s Home Office remains steadfast is portraying itself as a “student-hostile government” to potential students overseas. There are no plans to remove students from the government net migration figures, which it plans to cut by the thousands, a government spokesman confirmed recently.

“There is no limit to the number of genuine international students that can come to the UK to study and we very much value the contribution that they make,” said a Home Office spokeswoman.

There was backlash last year when new data published by the Office of National Statistics revealed fewer than 5,000 international students overstayed in a year – a figure drastically lesser than what the UK government had used to justify its crackdown in the first place.

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