A report, released today by Universities Wales, shows that international students studying at Welsh universities are having an immediate and significant impact on our country. The strength of Welsh universities in attracting more than 22,000 students from 140 countries all over the world to study in Wales powers the economy, generates jobs and boosts export earnings through increased tourism.
Cabinet Secretary for Education Kirsty Williams said:
“Wales continues to be recognised internationally as an exceptional place to study and live, with a reputation for excellence. This report demonstrates that the strength of Welsh universities in attracting students from all over the world to study here brings both social and economic value to our campuses and communities, with international students making a significant contribution to the wider Welsh economy.”
The research, conducted by Viewforth consulting, found that in 2015/16, international students and their visitors generated £716m of Welsh output. This significant economic contribution was generated through both on-campus and off-campus expenditure, producing over £372m of Welsh Gross Value Added (GVA), and generating 6850 Full Time Equivalent jobs.
As well as paying tuition and other fees to universities, students spend money off-campus and also attract additional short-stay visitors in the form of family and friends from abroad (56,136 in 2015/16) who spend money on hotel accommodation and local amenities, creating jobs and contributing to Welsh GVA. The report found that international students and their visitors spent over £487m in 2015/16. This was equivalent to 3.7% of all 2015 Welsh exports, and also greater than the total estimated 2016 international tourist and visitor spend in Wales.
Chair, Universities Wales, and Vice-Chancellor of University of South Wales, Professor Julie Lydon said:
“This report demonstrates the immeasurable social and cultural value of our international students, showing that their presence brings immediate and significant economic value to our local and national economies. It lays out how an international Welsh higher education sector strengthens Wales’ global presence and attracts investment, with an immediate and positive impact on communities across Wales.”
Welsh universities not only contribute to an outward-looking, international Wales, but bring immense economic, social and cultural benefits to Wales through our globally connected institutions. By attracting students from abroad, the higher education sector is contributing, both immediately and in the longer term, to the goal of raising the country’s profile and attracting investment.
Ian Price, Director, CBI Wales (Confederation of British Industry), said:
“The Welsh business community recognises the significant contribution international students make to the local economy. In an increasingly global trading environment, international students bring new ideas, important skills, and links to networks around the world. These links will become even more crucial in a post Brexit economy; and it is vital that the government and local community look at how they can support the Welsh universities international work to ensure that they can continue to help the country thrive.”
This work also found that every area of Wales benefits from the ‘knock-on’ effects of Welsh universities’ international student and visitor expenditure, regardless of whether they have a local university presence. Through the construction of a Wales-specific ‘Gravity model’, Viewforth Consulting have been able to demonstrate how economic impact flows further afield from areas that do not have a university through “ripple effects”. The report shows that £82m of GVA was generated and 1598 jobs created by Welsh universities in parts of Wales that do not have a university on their doorstep.
International MBA graduate Aadil Mukhtar, Founder & Senior Consultant of Marketing Runway, a Cardiff based start-up offering business consulting, digital marketing and technology solutions said:
“Studying in Wales provided me with a perfect platform to establish my business, which now offers its services in 17 countries around the world. For a thriving Welsh economy, it is vital that these opportunities are available to entrepreneurs and global businesses who want to come to Wales especially post Brexit”
Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama graduate Daphne Chook Pui Yee, Music Coordinator and co-founder of International Music School Cardiff said:
“Being able to set up my business with international networks and the support from my university has helped to build my business in Wales and it is crucial that international graduates are being recognized as important contributors to the Welsh economy development”
The research is being launched in partnership with BUILA at 12.30pm on 21st November at an event at the British Council, where higher education and business leaders will come together to celebrate the contribution of international students to the Welsh economy and hear from international student graduates on their experiences of studying in Wales, and their entrepreneurial work developing businesses and growing the Welsh economy.