STUDENTS from Europe and beyond make a huge contribution to Wales economy according to a report issued Wednesday 9 March 2011. The report – commissioned by the Wales International Consortium (WIC), the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales (HEFCW) and Higher Education Wales (HEW) – was completed by Oxford Economics, a leading international consultancy. The report quantifies for the first time the economic contribution to Wales of international and EU students at our universities, estimating that their presence in Wales adds £237m to the Welsh economy and over 9,000 jobs in our communities. The report is issued to coincide with a seminar on the regional economic contribution of universities taking place at the Wales Millennium Centre on the morning of Wednesday 9th March.
Dr Peter Noyes, Chair of the Wales International Consortium and vice-Chancellor of the University of Wales Newport, said:
“The contribution of overseas students to Wales’s economy is enormous and much larger than previously thought. What has not been fully appreciated before now is the added value that such students bring to the tourist industry in Wales and the extent to which they help raise Wales’s international profile when they return home. It won’t surprise us that international and European students speak highly of their experience at our universities and of Wales generally.”
Professor Noel Lloyd, Chair of Higher Education Wales and Vice-Chancellor of Aberystwyth University reinforced the intrinsic value of international students to universities, saying:
“EU and international students make an extremely valuable contribution to each university in Wales. They enrich the universities themselves and their local communities – in the diversity they bring to the campus and the varied perspectives they add to the learning environment. Every student – from wherever they come – is a valued member of our academic community.”
Professor Lloyd, who was a signatory to a headline generating letter from university leaders to The Observer on Sunday 6 March, addressed concerns relating to proposed changes to visa arrangements currently being put forward by the Home Office. Professor Lloyd said:
“Such proposals would clearly endanger our ability to recruit international students to Welsh universities. We are working with the UK Border Agency to address abuses of the system but there is a danger that the proposals, if implemented, would have a range of unintended consequences which could inflict significant economic damage at a time of rising unemployment.