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Indian students bring net gains to UK economy, report finds

Indian students bring net gains to UK economy, report finds
Courtesy: LeoPatrizi | E+ Via Getty Images

They form a significant chunk of the UK-India diaspora living bridge and now a new analysis has confirmed that Indian students studying at British universities bring net gains to the UK economy.

In November 2022, Indians overtook Chinese as the largest group of foreign students studying in the UK led by the Graduate Route visa introduced in July 2021 to allow international students the chance to stay on and gain work experience at the end of their degree. Now, research released last week for leading UK higher education institutions has found that students from countries outside the European Union (EU) – such as India – bring in £96,000 per student benefit to the British economy. Focussing on the 2020-21 statistics, the London Economics analysis for the Higher Education Policy Institute (HEPI), Universities UK International (UUKi), and Kaplan International Pathways found that overseas students bring a net positive economic impact for the UK economy even once associated costs of family dependants are calculated.

Dr Gavan Conlon, Partner at London Economics, said: “International students put nearly 10 times more into the economy than they take out – boosting both local and national economic wellbeing.

“However, international students also allow universities to undertake world class teaching and research that would not otherwise be possible. As one of the UK’s most significant export industries, the success of universities in attracting international students should be applauded.”

Source: London Economics

The report comes at a time when there is growing debate within the UK government over the need to curb soaring immigration figures, with international students and their dependants very much in focus. During his visit to Japan, UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak was asked if he was considering a clampdown on overseas students and their visa rights to bring their family members to the UK – something he dismissed as speculation at this stage.

Nick Hillman, Director of HEPI, said: “The number of international students has been rising fast, reflecting the attractiveness of the UK to those who want to better themselves through education, and in spite of mixed messages from policymakers.

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“If there were to be further changes to the rules on international students, then it is vital that these are based on evidence rather than whim. So, this report is designed to strengthen the existing evidence base. We hope it will be read by every candidate for every major political party in every constituency in the run up to the next election.”

The new report claims the total economic benefits from foreign students have risen from £31.3 billion to £41.9 billion between 2018-19 and 2021-22 – marking an increase of 34 per cent. The data also confirms that the economic benefits of hosting international students significantly outweigh the costs, with a total net benefit of £37.4 billion to the UK economy. Data from the report indicates that every 11 non-EU students generate £1 million worth of net economic impact for the UK economy.

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Jamie Arrowsmith, Director of UUKi – the representative body for 140 universities in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, added: “It is vital that the UK remains an open and welcoming destination for international students, and that their contribution is recognised and valued.”

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