Sheffield among UK cities that benefit the most from international students

International students in Sheffield have the third greatest impact on the UK’s economy, according to a new report published this week (16 May 2023).

Students walking on the concourse with the University of Sheffield's Students' Union and Firth Court buildings on either side
  • New report reveals the impact that international students have on the UK’s economy
  • Figures show that international students in Sheffield had the third highest impact on the UK’s economy in 2021/22
  • International students studying at Sheffield’s two universities had £273 million net impact on the UK
  • Even when accounting for dependants and other costs international students are a huge net contributor to the UK economy, according to analysis

International students in Sheffield have the third greatest impact on the UK’s economy, according to a new report published this week (16 May 2023).

The report, published by Universities UK International (UUKi), the Higher Education Policy Institute (HEPI) and Kaplan International Pathways in collaboration with London Economics, reveals the growing importance of international students to local economies throughout the UK. 

Figures from the report, show that the 2021/22 cohort of international students in Sheffield Central had a £273 million net impact on the economy - the third highest of any constituency across the UK, behind Glasgow Central and Holborn and St Pancras.

The average impact for parliamentary constituencies in the Yorkshire and Humber region was also the third highest in the UK - at £54 million. 

Findings from the report reveal international students contributed a huge £41.9 billion to the UK overall, rising from £31.3bn in 2018/19 - an increase of 34 per cent. The data also confirms that – even when accounting for the impact on public services (estimated at £4.4 bn) – the economic benefits of hosting international students significantly outweigh the costs with a total net benefit of £37.4bn to the UK.  

The analysis illustrates that the contribution of international students to the UK is clustered around the location of higher education institutions - such as the University of Sheffield and Sheffield Hallam University in South Yorkshire - but also demonstrates the economic contribution made by international students across the entire United Kingdom.

Paul Blomfield, Sheffield Central MP and Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on International Students, said: “The benefits of international students living and studying in Sheffield are clear. This report shows the significant economic benefit they have on our communities, but they also bring enormous value in other ways. Not only do they help to create jobs and support Sheffield’s shops, businesses and restaurants, they enhance the education and experiences of all students, contribute to vital research and add to the cultural vibrancy of our city. I’m proud that students from across the world choose to study in Sheffield and I know that our city will continue to welcome them.”

The benefits international students bring to communities in the UK are not only financial. 

Speaking about international students, Professor Koen Lamberts, President and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Sheffield, said: "International students are a vital part of our University community. They bring a real vibrancy to our campus, sharing knowledge, perspectives and experiences that enhance the education of all our students. We are very proud of the contribution international students make to our city - not only economically, but through volunteering and supporting local charities and organisations. When they graduate, they go on to be fantastic ambassadors for Sheffield and for the UK, strengthening our links with countries around the globe. 

“The University and Students’ Union founded the #WeAreInternational campaign 10 years ago to celebrate the impact of our international students, and we will continue to advocate for the benefits they bring to our community.”

Professor Chris Husbands, Vice-Chancellor of Sheffield Hallam University, said: “In every university in the country, international students broaden horizons and reach. They make our universities culturally richer places, in which students from quite different backgrounds work, learn and live together.

“The city’s universities are globally connected institutions, and that works for the benefit of students and the city.”

Anna Fedotova, International and Community Officer 2022/23 at the University of Sheffield Students' Union, said: "Having a diverse, international, and vibrant campus which we can celebrate, brings with it so many benefits outside of the economic sphere. Higher education in the UK attracts students from all over the world, and welcoming international students should remain a priority that paves the way to a deeper and more compassionate understanding of multiple worldviews and cultures. This is something we see every day in our Sheffield student community, and I hope this can continue to grow."

In total, 381,000 first year international students enrolled into UK universities in 2021/22, highlighting the global appeal of the country’s higher education institutions and cementing our place as one of the leading destinations for international students. 

Demonstrating the spread of international students across England, the report shows that:

  • 98,825 students studied in London, 
  • 31,360 studied in Yorkshire and the Humber, 
  • 29,750 in the West Midlands, 
  • 27,680 in the Northwest, 
  • 24,835 in the East of England, 
  • 24,235 in the East Midlands, 
  • 18,715 in the Northeast 
  • 9,700 in the Southwest. 

In relation to the other UK home nations, there were 44,085 international first-year students studying in Scotland, 14,905 in Wales, and 12,615 in Northern Ireland. 

In Sheffield Central, there were 2,915 first year international students studying at the city’s two universities.

The full report, The costs and benefits of international higher education students to the UK, is available to read here


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