Recognising the contribution of international students

MBA students at the Leeds University Business School

International students in Leeds contribute a net £390m to the UK economy, a new study has found.

Research published by the Higher Education Policy Institute (HEPI) focused on students from the rest of the EU and further afield starting university in 2015/16.

Professor Hai-Sui Yu, Pro-Vice-Chancellor: International at the University of Leeds, said: “The contribution to our city and to the UK of students who come here from across the world to study is highly significant and valued both in cultural and reputational terms, and financially, as the HEPI report illustrates.

“The University of Leeds is one of the top 10 higher education institutions in the UK and we are a truly global university. We will continue to recruit the brightest people from across the world to ensure all students and academic staff have access to the widest range of opinions and experiences whilst living in the city. We will also ensure incoming students continue to benefit from our gold-standard research-led teaching.”

The research found that the 4,250 international students living in Leeds’ eight parliamentary constituencies who began their studies in 2015/16 contributed £390.3m for the country’s economy through tuition fees, accommodation costs and other spending, as well as visits by friends and family.

The Leeds figures in the report take into account those studying at all of the city’s higher education institutions, including the University of Leeds. They also include “knock-on” benefits covering how universities spend money on salaries, goods and services in their regions.

Significant contribution

Research commissioned by the University in 2015 showed how its 34,000 students, drawn from 146 countries, contributed about £1.3bn to the UK economy, and almost £200m through rents and living costs. It identified the University as a truly global community with real international reach, pointing to the 235,000 alumni living worldwide who act as strong global advocates of the region and of the UK.

Bolstering this international outlook in the other direction, at least one in five Leeds students will go overseas as part of their course to work or study abroad, and 3,500 students volunteer through international, national and local projects each year.

The research also found that every £1m of revenue generated by the University produced a further economic impact of £1.31m in the UK, £0.97m of which in Yorkshire and Humber. The University also backs the #WeAreInternational campaign celebrating diversity and inclusivity.

Global profile

The University of Leeds has significantly expanded its global profile in recent years, including the launch of a joint engineering school with South West Jiao Tong University in China. Most recently, it has committed to work towards establishing a joint research institute with Shanghai Jiao Tong University to tackle global environmental challenges. It has also launched a suite of web pages designed to highlight its global reach, while other pages provide key information to international students wishing to study in Leeds.

HEPI constituency profile: Leeds Central 

  • Students starting degrees in 2015/16: 1,670
  • Benefits to the UK economy: £167.8m
  • Costs to UK economy: £13.8m
  • Net impact: £153.9m
  • Net impact per resident: £1,160

Leeds Central constituency covers the University of Leeds, Leeds Beckett and Leeds Arts University campuses and the University of Law. It is among the top 20 constituencies in the UK to benefit from hosting international students.

The national picture

Across the UK as a whole, the total net economic contribution of international students starting in 2015/16 was estimated by the HEPI report to be £20.3 billion, with the study showing that the benefits international students bring to the country are ten times greater than the costs involved.

Alistair Jarvis, Chief Executive of Universities UK, said: “This report confirms the vital net contribution international students make to the UK. Looking ahead, we need to see a new post-Brexit immigration policy that encourages all suitably qualified international students to choose to study in the UK.

“This includes enhancing the post-study work opportunities for qualified international graduates, as many of our international competitors have been doing to improve their student visa offer.”

Further information

Professor Yu is available to discuss the HEPI report, please contact Peter Le Riche in the University of Leeds press office on 0113 343 2049 or email p.leriche@leeds.ac.uk

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