In response to the newly-published report by Universities UK International (UUKi), Higher Education Policy Institute (HEPI), and Kaplan International, the reaction of ESN UK is as follows:
We are glad to see this report confirming the far-reaching economic benefits international students bring across all areas of the UK. We sincerely hope these figures will contribute towards a shift away from dangerous speculation on incoming student numbers, and towards the recognition of an international education’s intrinsic value to society.
There is much to be celebrated, but it is worth noting that despite the huge increase in net benefit brought by international students from 2018/19 (£31.3 bn) to 2021/22 (£41.9 bn), the number of EU students entering the UK has dramatically fallen. This is especially relevant as the same report finds that per student, EU students bring greater benefit to the UK, mainly owing to the higher tendency for EU students to enter as first degree students.
International students are also more than figures - bringing a much wider range of social, cultural and educational benefits outside of these. UK universities are internationally renowned, and many brilliant students come to our institutions and contribute to the standards of our research and the learning in our classrooms.
Moving forward, the focus should not be on aiming for continued unsustainable growth, but on how best we can improve our support for these incoming students. ESN UK believes reinvesting this substantial economic benefit into comprehensive support for international students on key issues like the graduate visa and accommodation, both of which currently lack, should be a key priority.