Analysis by Universities UK (UUK) claims that students from the European Union “spend money and create jobs in all corners of the UK”.
According to the research, students from other EU countries studying at UK universities generate £3.7 billion for the UK economy, and they support over 34,000 jobs in the country.
The research, based on 2011-12 student numbers, revealed that the EU students create £1.44 billion through spending on campus, and another £220 million on fees and costs. The rest of their contribution is created through off-campus spending of £1.49 billion on goods and services, including food and rent.
The UUK report also broke down the money generated by region, which revealed that London benefits from European students the most, generating £788.9 million via income and 7,580 jobs. Northern Ireland gains the least, with £78.1 million and 841 jobs.
5 per cent of the UK university population is made up of EU students, with most of them coming from Germany, with 13,675 students.
Dame Julia Goodfellow, president of UUK and vice-chancellor of the University of Kent, said EU students “make a very important academic and cultural contribution to university life, creating an international, outward-looking culture on campuses which, in turn, benefits UK students.
She added that leaving the EU and “putting barriers to work and study makes it more likely that European students and researches will choose to go elsewhere, strengthening our competitors and weakening the UK universities.”
Angus Dalgleish, professor of oncology at St George’s, University of London and speaking to Times Higher Education said that a vote to leave the EU would not make a “blind bit of difference” to the money brought to the country by EU students.
Dalgleish claims the £3.7 billion figure released by UUK did not include the money which the country loses from EU students, referencing the money they take out as student loans and don’t pay back. In 2012 THE reported that 42 per cent of EU students were not keeping up with repayments.
Jo Johnson, the Universities and Science Minister has commented that the UK’s “success as a knowledge economy hinges on our ability to collaborate with the best minds from across Europe and the world.”
He claims it would “be reckless to cut ourselves off from the rich sources of the EU funding, the access to valuable shared research facilities and the close institutional ties that provide so many opportunities to British students and academics”.
Johnson and 13 former ministers are all signatories to a letter to The Times argued that leaving the EU would “weaken our universities and lessen their positive impact”.