Briefing – International students in the UK

08 July 2024

International students bring cultural, social, and economic benefits to all UK nations and international demand for our higher education should be regarded as a genuine UK success story. They bring new skills and diverse perspectives to our classrooms and labs, strengthen the UK’s international relations and drive research and innovation across the country:

  • Over a quarter of world leaders were educated at a UK university, conferring soft power benefits for generations to come.
  • A single cohort of international students generates £37.4bn net economic impact for the UK.
  • Entrepreneurial international students launch spinouts in the UK that create jobs, attract inward investment and spur economic growth.
  • Skilled international graduates will be an integral part of the future workforce, bolstering the UK’s R&D capability and staffing innovative British businesses that will be central to realising the ambitions of government’s new Industrial Strategy.
  • Overseas tuition fees enable universities to grow places for domestic undergraduates. Despite growing funding deficits, overseas fees have enabled our universities to increase UK undergraduate numbers by 43% since 2012/13.
  • International students are integral to university research teams, comprising 46% of all postgraduate research (PGR) students at Russell Group universities and 60% of students enrolled onto engineering and technology PGR courses.
  • International students enable university research, as overseas tuition fees are the largest single income source helping plug university research funding deficits that totalled £5.3bn in 2022/23.

Stability in government policy on international students and a more positive rhetoric around UK higher education will ensure the UK remains a leading destination for international students, benefiting domestic students, UK R&D and businesses.

Find out more in our briefing.

Briefing – International students in the UK

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