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International students contributed £1.43bn to Welsh economy – report

16 May 2023 4 minute read
Cardiff University. Picture by Stan Zurek. Bangor University. Picture: Denis Egan. Swansea University picture by SwanseaUni. (CC BY-SA 4.0) Aberystwyth University picture by Tanya Dedyukhina (CC BY 3.0).

New data has revealed that the intake of international students in the 2021/22 academic year contributed £1.43bn to the Welsh economy.

The figures are released today in a report published by Universities UK International (UUKi), the Higher Education Policy Institute (HEPI) and Kaplan International in collaboration with London Economics

The report, The costs and benefits of international higher education students to the UK, reveals the growing importance of international students to local economies throughout Wales.

In total, the average net impact of international students per parliamentary constituency in Wales is estimated at £31m, which is equivalent to approximately £390 per resident.

Mapping the spread of international students across the country, the data revealed there were 14,905 first year students enrolled in the 2021/22 cohort in Wales.

The data also confirms that – even when accounting for the impact on public services (estimated at £166m) – the economic benefits of hosting international students significantly outweigh the costs with a total net benefit to the Welsh economy of £1.3 billion associated with international students studying in Wales.

Dr Ben Calvert, Chair of the Universities Wales International Network, said: “I very much welcome this important report which makes clear the vital contribution international students make to Welsh society and to our economy.

“What is particularly striking about the report’s findings is how international students generate benefits across the whole of Wales, demonstrating the way in which universities act as economic anchors in their local communities.

“We must also acknowledge the important role that international students play, not just through their economic contribution, but in diversifying and internationalising our campuses and communities at a time when retaining an international outlook is more important than ever.

“It is vital that we value their contribution to Welsh society and continue to provide a warm and inclusive welcome for all those choosing to study at Welsh universities.”

Dramatic increase

Across the UK, the net economic impact of international students has seen a dramatic rise over the past few years – up 58% since 2015/16, (£23.6bn to £37.4bn). One reason for this is the 68% rise in the number of students (now standing at 350,145) from non-EU countries since 2018/19. Data from the report indicates that every 11 non-EU student generates £1m worth of net economic impact for the UK economy, this breaks down to just under £100,000 (£96,000) per non-EU domiciled student.

The report, which was commissioned to explore the impact of international students to the UK economy, reveals economic benefits have risen from £31.3bn to £41.9bn between 2018/19 to 2021/22, an increase of 34%.

In total, 381,000 first year international students enrolled into UK universities in 2021/22, further highlighting the global appeal of the country’s higher education institutions and cementing our place as one of the leading destinations for both EU and non-EU students.

Jamie Arrowsmith, Director of Universities UK International said: “This report further highlights the positive contribution that international students make to the UK. They offer both a cultural and social benefit to our country, and make a significant contribution to our economy.

“We should be proud that our universities continue to attract students from all over the world. It is vital that the UK remains an open and welcoming destination for international students, and that their contribution is recognised and valued.

“Higher education is one of the UK’s most important and successful exports – but it is truly unique, in that, alongside generating a significant economic contribution to the UK, our universities have a hugely positive global impact, creating opportunity for millions of learners and helping address some of the most pressing global challenges.”


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Cathy Jones
Cathy Jones
11 months ago

Our beautiful Cymru attracts international students and those students become educated and add to our economy and our prestige grows with it….and that’s why I am proud to be Cymraeg.

The Saesneg call us the outsiders but because we are comrades, the world loves us and its people come here to live and learn with us to share our heritage and enrich our modern culture with their ways. We are the comrades and we will show the Saesneg the way.

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