May 19, 2015

International students boost the UK economy by £2.3 billion

According to a new report by London First, international students who travel to London to study contribute £2.3 billion to the economy. Overseas students have also been found to “support nearly 70,000 jobs” because of the money they spend.

Despite this great contribution to the economy, the majority of students said they are made to feel “unwelcome,” and that it’s difficult for them to find employment after graduating because of the complex immigration system.

The report’s respondents, international students from 70 countries, said they feel pressure to leave Britain once their degree is finished.

Baroness Jo Valentine, chief executive of London First, said: "International students are made to feel unwelcome because of the anti-immigration rhetoric," and because they are included in the government's net migration targets.

"Students' expenditure here is a modern-day export: they pay substantial fees and contribute significantly to consumer spending," she said.

London First recommends that migration targets should be reclassified, and students should be given visitor status so that they can work after their courses end.

Calculations in the report show that international students do not burden public services, consuming only £540 million in public spending, and more hard data such as this is needed to inform immigration policy.

Arnaud Chevalier writes in his IZA World of Labor article on the positives of international student mobility that, “student mobility can be beneficial for all participants: migrating students and those who remain at home, as well as home and host societies.”

Despite widespread anti-immigration sentiments, in order for the skilled workforce to grow and the economy to thrive, countries need to attract skilled migrants.

One method of achieving this is by attracting and retaining international students, rather than making them feel they need to leave upon completion of their degree.

Chevalier’s advises: “Policies that improve the job market for skilled graduates and limit tenure-based wages increase the proportion of returning students (and therefore boost the economy further).”

Read more here.

Related articles:
How to attract foreign students, by Arnaud Chevalier
Skill-based immigration, economic integration, and economic performance, by Abdurrahman B. Aydemir