Benefits that International Students Bring to the UK
What makes up the fabric of UK universities is their commitment to being internationally inclusive environments that harness and foster the skills of word-class students. According to official international enrolment statistics from HESA, a total of 458,490 foreign students were attending university in UK in 2017/18, indicating that the UK is a very popular destination for Higher Education study.
International students bring a lot to the table when it comes to contributing to the growth and improvement of UK institutions, and it is important to acknowledge the number of ways in which they do this.
It’s been estimated that the total economic benefit of international students to the UK economy is £22.6bn over the entire duration of their studies, indicating that the benefits are “10 times greater than the cost.”
Nick Hillman, the director of the Higher Education Policy Institute, states that “fewer international students would mean a lot fewer jobs in all areas of the UK, because international students spend money in their universities, in their local economies.”
Whilst London has the greatest share of overseas students, a study conducted by the thinktank shows that smaller cities, with more than one university, can have greater impact from international students’ spending.
Essentially, overseas students fuel local companies so without them, the heart of many small towns would struggle to exist.
Aside from the fiscal profits that universities benefit from, the acceptance of international students to UK universities is conducive to increasing domestic students’ awareness of different cultures beyond their own.
The Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education identifies “global citizenship” as a key feature of 21st century higher education; this is described as ‘encouraging a capacity to thrive in a globalised society and economy, and an awareness of cultures beyond and different to one’s own’.
In research conducted on behalf of Think Global and the British Council, they found that 79% of business leaders stated that knowledge of the wider world contributes towards recruitment and 85% value employees who are able to work with colleagues from a variety of countries and cultures.
Evidently, the international diversification of students enriches the learning experience of domestic students as they can learn and develop from their international peers, procuring them for a global market through greater cultural awareness, making them more employable.
Innovation and Research
In recruiting international students, universities cultivate the UK to be a thriving scene for global talent. In order to be the best of the best, UK businesses must hire employees based on their merit and skills.
In a case study looking into the social and economic impact of international students for Cancer Research UK, the Migration Advisory Committee examines the case of Tony Wu, an American PhD student at the Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute. With his expertise, Wu is able to work in an area where there is a UK skills shortage. The analysis concludes that “ensuring that international students like Tony Wu can stay in the UK is essential for a flourishing research community.”
Clearly, global talent is integral to making the UK the leading hub of innovation and research, therefore, it is important to foster a cohesive environment that allows exceptional talent to develop.