The Oxford Economics study, commissioned by the University of Sheffield as an example of how overseas students affect a large city’s economy, found that the students would add £147.5 million to the city through their fees, living costs and visits by friends and relatives in 2012-13.
They cost the city £.2 million by using public services and adding to road congestion, leaving a substantial net benefit, The Economic Costs and Benefits of International Students concludes.
The report also looks at the long-term impact of the students who stay in the UK, and concludes that it is “highly likely that their net fiscal impact is positive” because the vast majority have no dependents and are highly skilled.
“Benefit will accrue to existing residents as the government will need to generate less tax
revenue per capita (of existing residents) to fund current spending,” it concludes.
Just under one in five work in the UK after graduation, the report estimates. It is “impossible to know” whether they displace British workers, it says, although nearly half of international students study science, technology, engineering or mathematics, areas where the UK has a skills gap, it adds.
Evidence is “very mixed” on whether the increase in the labour supply results in lower wages for British workers, the report adds.
The report was launched yesterday at a House of Commons reception hosted by Paul Blomfield, the Labour MP for Sheffield Central, and Conservative MP Nadhim Zahawi, who have jointly campaigned for international students to be removed from the government’s target to reduce net migration to the “tens of thousands” by 2015.
Mr Zahawi said that the prime minister David Cameron “gets” the importance of international students to the economy but blamed the “machinery of government” for refusing to remove students from the migration cap.