International students contribute £2.3bn to London’s economy

18 May 2015 | Posted by Carl Thomas

Overseas students are making a major contribution to London’s economy, according to a new report.

People in the capital on student visas contribute around £2.3 billion to the city’s economy every year, after expenses for public services such as the NHS are subtracted, researchers said.

The report, London Calling: International students’ contribution to Britain’s economic growth, said there are around 100,700 overseas students studying in the capital. They account for just over four in 10 postgraduates and just over a quarter of undergraduates in London.

Their contribution to the economy, both through their fees and their spending, supports around 70,000 jobs in the city.

The Government has been attempting to limit the number of overseas students remaining in the UK after their courses finish as part of its efforts to reduce immigration figures. However, the report found that just 12.5 per cent of international students in London stay in the UK once their course has finished.

However, living and studying in the UK made them more likely to trade with British companies in their future careers. Six out of 10 said they would do so after experiencing British culture and the same proportion said they believed their career prospects were better as a result of studying in the UK.

But many students said the complexity of the UK’s immigration system had negatively affected their time studying in Britain.

The report said it is time for the Government to enter into a proper debate about the part international students play in the UK’s economy and that they should be welcomed for their positive impact.

It called for a new approach, with those on international student visas being classed as temporary residents rather than migrants. Canada and Australia already use this system.