New research suggests international students pay for 70,000 jobs in London

A new report shows that the economic benefits of overseas students in the capital far outweigh the cost


New research by London First and PwC has shown that international students at London universities contribute a net £2.3 billion to the UK economy, the equivalent of £34,122 per student.

This is the figure left after £540m has been taken off for the public services they consume, including the NHS.

Describing London’s higher education system as ‘an export success story’, the report also showed that 60 per cent of students polled in London said they were more likely to do business with the UK as a result of studying here.

Although 92 per cent of students said that they would recommend UK study to their friends and family, over a third said that the complexity of Britain’s immigration system had negatively affected their experience of studying here. Most students also said that the system made it difficult to work here after they had finished their studies.

In light of this, London First have set out a number of recommendations for the government, if it wants to continue to feel the economic benefits brought by international students.

These include:

  • Classifying students as temporary visitors not migrants, as in Canada and Australia
  • Using hard data when setting immigration targets so that we can better understand the facts on inward and outward flows
  • Creating an environment where British-educated overseas talent is treated as an asset rather than a liability.

This last point was expanded on by Baroness Jo Valentine, the chief executive of London First, who said:

“International students are made to feel unwelcome because of anti-immigration rhetoric – and the fact that they are currently included in the government’s net migration target…

“As a matter of priority, our new government should follow the lead of Australia and Canada and reclassify international students as temporary visitors, not migrants.

“It makes no sense to imply through classification and rhetoric that they are unwelcome, which is harming our universities’ abilities to sell education to talented students around the world.”

In the run up to the election, home secretary Theresa May spoke of a move towards zero net student migration, where all students would be forced to return home after their their student visas expire.

At the time, the Liberal Democrat business secretary Vince Cable cautioned that the proposals risked putting students off coming to study here. The Lib Dems said plans ignored the huge practical value to the economy that British-educated scientists, engineers etc. have, and made ‘zero economic sense’.

Today’s report seems to confirm this scepticism. It finds that the contributions of international students support 70,000 jobs in London both at the universities themselves and through their expenditure on fees (£1.32 billion) and subsistence (£1.36 billion.)

The report also exposes the myth that foreign students are a drain on public services, and points out that students have no recourse to public welfare as a condition of their visa. Furthermore, London First found that their contribution to the lack of affordable housing in the capital was ‘negligible’.

Students in London either live in university accommodation or privately rented properties; those in the latter category were found to pay an average of £650 per month. This represents a rate broadly similar to the current market price, and not the low – or ‘affordable’ – end.

Ruby Stockham is a staff writer at Left Foot Forward. Follow her on Twitter

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4 Responses to “New research suggests international students pay for 70,000 jobs in London”

  1. damon

    So why not bring in ten million more people? Think how the GDP of the country would grow.
    If only we had a hundred million the economy would be even larger.
    Isn’t it great how all the millionaire non doms add to the wealth of the country?
    And we should be really greatful that billionaire Qataris have taken such a liking to Mayfair and London.

  2. Torybushhug

    And what of the contribution of 2 million cash in hand migrants working in takeaways, restaurants, hand car washes, self employed decorators etc?
    A massive drain.
    What of the demand push costs on so many things such as housing?
    Building millions more homes will despoil the nation, add masses more congestion, add to the sense we’re moving ever further away from the natural world, add to pollution and consumption (concrete for example) and in any event will not be sustainable as a mass of new shiny homes will act as an even greater magnet anyway.
    What it is the liberal lefts end game? What will the UK be like in another 30 years when a net 10 million more souls are here? All you seem to care for is the Human swarm expansion, is this really all there is to look forward to?

  3. GhostofJimMorisson

    Anti-immigration rhetoric? What utter cobblers! Are you, or is the Baronnes, honestly suggesting foreign students might be put off studying in the UK because of anti-immigration rhetoric? Go to any UK university and you’ll see that’s complete hysterical nonsense. And what is this rhetoric anyway? From where is it coming? You mean people expressing concern about lack of housing? The strain on public services? Or are they all EDL racist skinheads? People like Ruby Stockholm genuinely can’t distinguish between the two. Oh and lucky old London eh! What about the rest of the country? You know, that big chunk of land outside the M25?

  4. rss1234

    Careful now.

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