May 21 ,2015 | by Thiago Kiwi

International students boost UK economy by £2.3bn, says report

Students from overseas contribute £2.3 billion towards the UK economy, shows new study by PwC.

Foreign students coming to study in London contribute a net £2.3 billion to the UK economy and support 70,000 jobs, according to new research from PwC and commissioned by London First.

The report, titled “London Calling: International students”, will go along way to overturn claims that overseas students are a burden upon taxpayers, especially since the figure of £2.3 billion has already taken into account the estimated £540 million costs these students have on public services, including the NHS.

"Students' expenditure here is a modern-day export: they pay substantial fees and contribute significantly to consumer spending," explained Jo Valentine, chief executive of London First.

 

The study surveyed 1,352 students and alumni from around 70 different countries, and found that 76 per cent had felt welcome during their stay. In addition, 60 per cent of them believed their career prospects had improved as a result of coming to the UK to study.

Furthermore, international students became enamoured with the British way of life after studying in London. The survey found that 60 per cent of respondents said they’d be more likely to deal with British companies after experiencing the UK’s culture.

Despite this, figures show that only 12.5 per cent of students remain in the UK after their studies have concluded. For those that choose to stay, foreign students earn on average a salary of £19,000 upon graduation, which equates to a combined income tax contribution of £9 million and contributions to national insurance of £17 million.

However, while their experiences were overall rather positive, over half (54 per cent) found that the complexity of the British immigration system had adversely affected their experience. Other complaints included application fees, documentation, work restrictions and processing time.

 

“International students make an extremely valuable contribution to the UK, both academically and financially,” said Nicola Dandridge, chief executive of Universities UK.

“If the UK wants to fulfil its potential in this growth area, it must present a welcoming climate for genuine international students and ensure that visa and immigration rules are consistent and properly communicated,” she added.

It seems that, far from being burdens upon society, international students coming to study in London provide a significant boost to the British economy, both in fees and in consumer spending. The report also notes that the UK should “welcome those who contribute economically to our country”.

Thiago Kiwi

Thiago is the LSBF Blog Editor who manages news and features content on the site, and writes about business, finance, technology, education and careers.

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