Stay in the loop! Subscribe to our mailing list

Economic benefit of int. students in the UK

The Higher Education Policy Institute (HEPI) and Universities UK International (UUKi) commissioned a study from London Economics to re-estimate the benefits and costs to the United Kingdom economy associated with international students, focusing on the 2018/19 academic year. 

This study has calculated economic benefits and costs associated with international students including both EU and non-EU domiciled students, as well as the net economic benefit considered, among others, by region and parliamentary constituency.  

  • Combining the economic benefits of the tuition fee, non-fee and visitor income associated with international students in the 2018/19 cohort, the total benefit to the UK economy associated with a typical EU and non-EU student was estimated at ca. GBP 94,000 and GBP 109,000, respectively. The difference between the two groups is mostly due to the relatively higher tuition fees charged to non-EU domiciled students. The total economic benefits of international aggregated across the entire 2018/2019 cohort of first-year students is estimated at ca. GPB 28.8 billion over the entire period of their studies. 
  • Combining the costs associated with the teaching grants paid to UK higher education institutions and student support (for EU students), as well as the costs of providing ‘other’ public services to international students and their dependants, the cost to the Exchequer per typical EU and non-EU student was estimated at GBP 22,000 and GBP 7,000, respectively. Aggregating across the 2018/2019 cohort of first-year students, the total cost of international students to the UK economy was estimated at GBP 2.9 billion, split roughly equally between EU and non-EU students. 
  • The net economic benefit that international students bring to the UK was estimated to be GBP 25.9 billion in the 2018/2019 academic year, an increase by almost a fifth compared to the 2015/2016 academic year. 

While these figures look pretty impressive for the pre-pandemic period, the future projections are much more cautious given the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and post-BREXIT developments in the sector. According to the government’s international education strategy, the aim is to reach the new target of 600 000 and thus increase education exports to GBP 35 million every year until 2030 (see ACA Newsletter – Education in Europe, February 2021). The latest UCAS data however shows a staggering 56% fall in admissions of EU applicants for the 2021/22 academic year next to a 9% increase in international, non-EU admissions (see ACA Newsletter – Education in Europe, August 2021).