Charted: How much do international students contribute to the Spanish economy?
For each Euro spent on their academic programme, these international students spent an additional .87 Euros on a broad range of sectors of the Spanish economy. Source: Shutterstock

Spain is one of the leading host destinations among international students. In 2017, the European coutnry received 94,962 students, one of the largest contingents in Europe behind powerhouses like the UK and Germany.

A new report details just how much this has contributed to the country’s economy. According to research supported by the Spanish Institute for Foreign Trade (part of the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Tourism) and the association EDUESPANA, international students contributed approximately €2,143,631,704 to the Spanish economy during the academic year 2018/18. €1 is equivalent to US$1.1 at the time of writing.

As the data only includes FEDELE (the Spanish Federation of Associations of Schools of Spanish as a Foreign Language) members, thus excluding universities and private sector schools, the actual figure is estimated to be much larger.

Of the various types of institutions 616,788 international students enrolled in, language schools had the greatest impact (€793,102,474), comprising 37 percent of the total contribution in euros. Close to half a million foreigners attend these language and culture programmes (472,150) nearly ten times more than the number of students enrolled in study abroad or Erasmus programmes. Business schools had the lowest number of international students enrolled.

However, the report found that B-school students had the highest per-student economic impact, estimated at €27,836. This is followed by study abroad students, contributing €7,199. As participants in language and culture programmes typically remain in Spain for less than three weeks, their per-person impact was much less, at only €1,680 per person.

The report also found a multiplier effect of 1.87. This means for each Euro spent on their academic programme, these international students spent an additional .87 Euros on a broad range of sectors in the Spanish economy.

In addition to this, international students make significant tax contributions. Firstly, their spending is subject to a value added tax of four to 21 percent. Secondly, their academic providers hire faculty and staff for whom they make payments to the social security administration. The report states that because of this, as many as 5,340 individuals are in full-time employment.

Speaking to The PIE News, Cristina Grasset, an author of the report, said: “There is a general lack of understanding and appreciation for both the economic impact and the social benefits which derive from the presence of international students, not only in Spain but probably in several other European countries.

“We hope the data-based evidence in our report will help spread the message, raise awareness and improve the perception of stakeholders and government agencies.”

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