Education & Family

Overseas students 'worth £120m to Sheffield'

University of Sheffield
Image caption More than 8,000 overseas students were learning and spending in Sheffield

Overseas students in Sheffield are worth £120m per year to the local economy, claims a study commissioned by the University of Sheffield.

The report is an attempt to quantify how much overseas students spend and also how much they consume in services.

Universities have voiced fears that efforts to cut immigration could hamper efforts to recruit overseas students.

Sheffield MP Paul Blomfield said overseas students provided "tens of thousands of jobs".

The study, carried out for Sheffield University by Oxford Economics, provides an analysis of the financial impact of more than 8,000 overseas students at Sheffield-based universities.

Financial impact

A large majority of these overseas students were single, without dependents and under the age of 30 - and the single biggest country of origin was China.

It found that the net benefit of these students was £120m - when direct and indirect spending was balanced against factors such as the cost of students on local health services.

Fee income brought in £104.5m to the University of Sheffield, Sheffield Hallam and other higher education providers.

Students spent a further £99m on living costs, such as food, transport, entertainment and accommodation.

But set against such spending are the extra pressures on public services from these overseas students, including health, recreation and the police.

Sir Keith Burnett, the University of Sheffield's vice chancellor, said: "Both the university and our students believe the impact of this research and its nationwide implications can influence changes in policy to make sure the UK doesn't unwittingly deter people of the talent of international students who have a great contribution to make."

Mr Blomfield, Labour MP for Sheffield Central, said this research provided evidence of the economic value of overseas students.

"This report provides the most rigorous analysis of the economic benefits to date, and shows just how much is at stake. In university towns and cities across the UK, tens of thousands of jobs depend on international students. And the benefits could be even greater if we win our share of the growing international market for higher education," he said.

Liam Burns, president of the National Union of Students said: "The value of international students to our universities and to the wider economy is well recognised by almost everyone but the Home Office and this report provides further important evidence of that."

The report is being launched at the House of Commons with cross-party support, with backing from Nadhim Zahawi, Conservative MP for Stratford-upon-Avon.

Last week the government confirmed that it was rejecting calls for overseas students to be removed from targets to cut net migration.

University leaders and the chairs of five parliamentary select committees have called for overseas students to be removed from such targets, raising concerns that legitimate students could be deterred from applying to UK universities.

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