The Impact of International Students on the UK Economy | Commercial immigration

A report by the Higher Education Policy Institute (HEPI) found that in the 2021/2022 financial year, international students contributed a net income of £37.4 billion to the UK economy. This is a net increase of 58% from FY 2015-2016.

The Report It considers students from various higher education courses up to PhD and calculates non-tuition costs including tuition fees, living expenses and income associated with visits from friends and family. The report does not consider the wider contribution of employment-related taxes that many students subsequently pay to the UK economy.

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As at that time, student numbers have increased in recent years in line with government policy, and recognition of the financial and academic value provided by international students. In 2019, the UK government at the time issued a International Education Strategy It proposed increasing the value of education exports to £35 billion a year by 2030 and increasing the total number of international students to 600,000 by 2030.

In a policy U-turn, the Home Secretary is now proposing to cut the number of international students. On 23 May 2023, she announced plans To enable the following:

  • removing the right to bring dependents unless international students are currently on postgraduate courses designated as research programmes;
  • removing the ability of international students to transition from student pathways to work pathways before the end of their studies; And
  • Reviewing care needs for students and dependents.

The proposals, if implemented, are now expected to come into force in January 2024 following consultation with UK universities by the Home Office.

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The UK government says it is committed to 'attracting the brightest and best to the UK’, but such a statement is hard to reconcile with these proposed measures. These policies are expected and intended to deter many high-achieving and talented students from applying to the UK’s world-class universities.

Given the financial and educational benefits associated with international student numbers, the Home Office may consider whether targeting international students to reduce net migration is a wise policy decision.


If you would like more information or would like to discuss how we can help you, please contact a practicing solicitor, Megan Moorhouse Or another member of ours Immigration Committee Who will be happy to help.


The content of this page is a summary of the law currently in force and is not exhaustive and does not constitute definitive advice. Special legal advice should be sought regarding any questions that may arise.

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