International students boost Scottish economy by £312m
Overseas students boost the Scottish economy by about £312m each year, according to figures from auditors PwC.
The net benefit is about £257m each year and takes into account the impact on public services such as the NHS.
In 2014, 34,670 students travelled from outside the European Union (EU) to study in Scotland.
But PwC said its research showed the overall experience of foreign students is compromised by the UK's complex immigration system.
The auditors claim this also has an impact on their ability to secure work following graduation and has called on the UK government to improve its data collection around migration.
The PwC calculation does not include the value to Scotland of non-fee spending (including accommodation, travel and leisure) by students from outside the UK, or non-fee spending by EU students, most of whom do not have to pay tuition fees.
Lindsey Paterson, from PwC in Scotland, said: "With a lot at stake, not just for the Scottish and UK economy but for the future growth and prosperity of our higher education establishments, it's clear that more needs to be done to inform and improve immigration policies and targets."
She added: "Our Scottish universities and colleges are competing in a global marketplace and it's vital that government supports them in attracting the brightest academic talent not just from here in the UK, but from the EU and further afield.
"International students not only help to broaden our own students' vision and perspective in the classroom but have a major economic impact through their fees and consumer spending."
PwC has recommended that the UK classify students as temporary visitors, not migrants, as is the case in Canada and Australia. It claims this will make it easier for international students to work in the UK post-graduation.