Study Group welcomes report on the economic impact of international students to the UK

Three international students in Liverpool.

Study Group joins universities, businesses and sector bodies to welcome a major new report into the economic impact of international students to the UK - The benefits and costs of international higher education students to the UK economy. 

  • New figures show the total economic benefit of international students to the UK rose from £31.3 billion to £41.9 billion between 2018/19 and 2021/22.
  • The average net benefit of international students for each of the UK's 650 constituencies is £58 million, which is equivalent to £560 per citizen
  • The economic benefits of hosting international students significantly outweigh the costs, even when accounting for dependants and other costs, and the impact on public services (estimated at £4.4 billion), with a total net benefit of £37.4bn to the UK economy.
  • Every 11 non-EU students generates £1 million worth of net economic impact for the UK economy.

Responding to the report, Study Group Chief Executive Officer Ian Crichton says:

“International students help make our universities exciting global communities of shared ideas and diverse perspectives. Their fees financially underpin the teaching and facilities that benefit all students, and cross-subsidise the research which provides answers to worldwide challenges. They are also a remarkable pipeline of talent, serving in our NHS as trainee doctors and nurses or going on in many cases to be a pipeline of talent in such key areas as science and innovation. Most return to their home countries, sharing valuable knowledge they have learned as well as becoming a part of vital global networks working to shape our future for the better.

“UK universities provide safe access to high quality learning which is amongst the best in the world. It is the product of hundreds of years of development and today, has been copied across many other countries but not bettered. Whilst most countries now have first class institutions packing serious intellectual firepower the UK continues to lead the way in delivering truly inclusive global education backed by world class research. Study Group are proud of our track record of preparing and supporting students from all over the world to ensure academic success in the UK. We are delighted that we contribute to a system that not only transforms students lives and ensures Britain’s relevance in the 21st century but also contributes so meaningfully to our economy.”

Jamie Arrowsmith, Director of Universities UK International says:

“This report further highlights the positive contribution that international students make to the UK. They offer both a cultural and social benefit to our country, and make a significant contribution to our economy. We should be proud that our universities continue to attract students from all over the world. 

“Higher education is one of the UK’s most important and successful exports – but it is truly unique, in that alongside generating a significant economic contribution to the UK our universities have a hugely positive global impact, creating opportunity for millions of learners and helping address some of the most pressing global challenges.”

The benefits and costs of international higher education students to the UK economy makes clear that international students are not only a vital part of the success of the UK’s globally respected higher education sector, they also make a powerful and growing economic impact on the country as a whole.

Just one way international students make a difference to the UK is through the delivery of world-class health care. Former Study Group students Dhionis and Marineo worked for the NHS during the pandemic, while studying for their undergraduate degrees at the University of Leeds. You can read Dhionis and Marineo's story on our blog.

Key figures

  • 381,000 first year international students enrolled into UK universities in 2021/22, highlighting the global appeal of the country’s higher education institutions and cementing the UK as one of the leading destinations for international students. 
  • 98,825 new students studied in London, 31,360 studied in Yorkshire and the Humber, 29,750 in the West Midlands, 27,680 in the Northwest, 24,835 in the East of England, 24,235 in the East Midlands and 18,715 in the Northeast. 
  • There were 44,085 international first-year students studying in Scotland, 14,905 in Wales, and 12,615 in Northern Ireland. 

The full report is available here: