Impact of international students on the UK
How many international students are there in the UK?
The 2009-10 data for international students in higher education show that there were 125,050 non-UK EU students and 280,760 non-EU students, giving a total of 405,810 non-UK students in UK HE.
A best guess for the public FE sector would be a further 50,000 students.
In the private sector, including those studying English language for more than six months, vocational training, pre-university preparation including A-level study, and higher education, it is estimated that there may be between 150,000 and 200,000.
However, it is difficult to give definitive figures because:
- it depends on your definition, for instance whether you include all students from outside the UK, or just those paying overseas fees, or those on student visas. UKCISA defnes international students as all non-UK domiciled students, but there is no single agreed definition.
- there is no single source of centrally collected data. For example, good data is available for the higher education (HE) sector, but with a 12-18 month time-lag; the data for the further education (FE) sector is patchy, and there is little data on private sector colleges and independent schools. Data is available on student visas issued and those given Leave to Enter, but neither of these accurately counts the numbers of students currently in the UK on a visa (see below for an explanation), and they do not include EU students who do not need visas.
How much do international students pay in fees?
A survey of fee levels in higher education in 2010-11 showed fees ranging from £3,400 to £31,750 for home and EU students, and from £7,120 to £35,600 for non-EU students.
A similar survey is conducted by Universities UK shows overseas (non-EU) fees ranging from an average of £10,500 for classroom-based undergraduate courses to an average of £27,000 for postgraduate students in clinical dentistry.
A research paper from the Department for Business Innovation and Skills called Estimating the value to the UK of Education Exports (June 2011) estimates that in 2008-09 tuition fee income to the UK was worth over £4 billion - £2.4 billion for HE, £139 million for FE and £880 million for English language.
What other income do they bring to the UK?
The same BIS research paper estimates the total value of UK education and training exports to the UK economy at £14 billion, with a projection that this could rise as high as £26 billion by 2025.
What other positive or negative impacts do they have on the UK?
- International fee income enables colleges and univeresities to invest in additional, enhanced or expanded facilities, and to offer specialist courses which would not be viable for the UK student market alone.
- International students help sustain the UK's research base especially in science, technology, engineering and mathematics: they account for over 40% of UK postgraduate students, 50% of those doing full-time research degrees.
- They money they spend also sustains thousands of jobs across the UK economy, both in colleges and universities, and in local economies..
- There is no element of subsidy for non-EU
students and no direct link between the numbers
of places available for 'home' (UK and EU)
students and 'overseas' students. There is a cap on the number of 'home student' places available due to the limited funding available from the UK
government (via the funding bodies). There is, however, no cap on the number of international students who can be accepted, as they are paying (at a minimum) full cost fees and facilities can therefore be expanded as numbers increase.
- the UK benefits from the global connections which international students generate. Many of the main source countries are also key export markets (and foreign policy priorities) including China, India, the USA.