Often valued because of their high tuition fees and expenditure in the UK economy, international students actually have a much wider “social, cultural and educational” benefit, a new report argues.
Released yesterday, Richer for It, claims that overseas students help foster an “international outlook” among their British counterparts, an attitude prized by the majority of employers.
Home students’ learning experience is “enriched” by the presence of international course mates, it adds.
International students also help boost Scottish “soft power” by creating a “vast network of alumni around the world who maintain strong connections to Scotland and serve as informal ambassadors for a country they perceive as a second home”.
These contributions are “just as valuable” as the £337 million in tuition fee income and £441 million in living expenditure international students bring to Scotland annually, the report says.
In a statement, Ian Diamond, vice-chancellor of the University of Aberdeen and chair of Universities Scotland’s international committee called on the UK government to implement visa and immigration policies in a way that allowed international student numbers to grow.
He welcomed a government strategy paper released in July that anticipated a 15-20 per cent growth in international students over the next five years.
“The true value of international students is much greater than can be quantified in monetary terms alone. The social, cultural and educational benefits gained from having international students study and live with us are immense,” he said.
“This is something I see every day at my own institution, the University of Aberdeen where we have over 120 nationalities represented, and I know to be the case at every university in Scotland”.