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The impact of international students on the UK economy | Business Immigration

The impact of international students on the UK economy |  Business Immigration


A report published by the Higher Education Policy Institute (HEPI) has 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 the 2015-2016 financial year.

of REPORT considers students from a range of higher education courses from the pathway to PhD and calculates tuition fees, non-tuition fees expenses including living costs and income related to visits from friends and family. The report does not take into account the wider contributions from employment-related taxes that many students will later pay to the UK economy.


Student numbers have increased in recent years in line with government policy, as it was at the time, and recognition of the financial and academic value offered by international students. In 2019, the UK government at the time published a International Education Strategy which proposed increasing the value of education exports to 35 billion per year by 2030 and increasing the total number of international students to 600,000 by 2030.

In a policy twist, the Home Secretary is now proposing to reduce the number of international students. On May 23, 2023, she announced plans to implement the following:

  • Removing the right for international students to bring dependents unless they are on postgraduate courses currently designated as research programmes;
  • Removing the opportunity for international students to switch from student to work paths before they have completed their studies; AND
  • Review of maintenance requirements for students and dependents.

If these proposals are implemented, they are currently expected to come into effect in January 2024 following Home Office consultation with UK universities.

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

The Home Office may consider whether targeting international students to reduce net migration is a wise policy decision given the financial and academic benefits associated with the international student population.

If you would like further information or would like to discuss how we can help you, please contact the practicing solicitor, Megan Moorhouse or another member of ours Immigration Teamwho will be happy to help.

The content of this page is a summary of the law currently in force and is not exhaustive, nor does it contain definitive advice. Specialist legal advice should be sought regarding any questions that may arise.




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