New research has revealed that the gross economic benefit of international students to the UK increased from £31.3 billion to £41.9 billion between 2018/19 and 2021/22. In Mid Bedfordshire, where Cranfield University is based, the net economic impact of the international student cohort of 2021/22 is estimated at £41.9 million.

The report, commissioned by Universities UK International (UUKi) shows that even when accounting for impacts on public services, the economic benefits of hosting international students outweigh the costs, with a total net benefit of £37.4 billion to the UK economy. On average, international students make a £58 million net economic contribution per constituency, equivalent to approximately £560 per citizen.

5,000 students from more than 100 countries come to Cranfield each year

Cranfield University in Bedfordshire – the UK’s only exclusively postgraduate university - welcomes around 5,000 students each year from more than 100 countries. 56% of Cranfield’s students are from outside the UK, creating a uniquely diverse experience on campus.

Many students come to Cranfield because of its strong industry links, world-renowned expert academic staff, and to learn from the very latest developments in specific fields including water, environment and agrifood, aerospace, manufacturing, transport, defence, security and management. Many graduates directly apply their new knowledge in their home countries, making a huge impact around the globe.

Beyond graduation, Cranfield’s strong alumni network connects 75,000 people around the world, spanning 171 countries.

A vibrant and supportive student community

Vice-Chancellor and Chief Executive of Cranfield University, Professor Karen Holford CBE FREng, said: “When I walk around campus what strikes me is the vibrancy of our student community, with people from across the globe coming together for a shared experience – learning from one another, supporting each other and making connections for life.

“International students bring benefits not just to campus, but to wider society and the UK economy as this report shows. They put nearly 10 times more into the economy than they take out – boosting both local and national economic wellbeing. I’m very proud that Cranfield continues to welcome students from around the world – we highly value their contribution to our community.”

Jamie Arrowsmith, Director of Universities UK International said: “ This report further highlights the positive contribution that international students make to the UK. They offer both a cultural and social benefit to our country, and make a significant contribution to our economy. We should be proud that our universities continue to attract students from all over the world. It is vital that the UK remains an open and welcoming destination for international students, and that their contribution is recognised and valued. Higher education is one of the UK’s most important and successful exports – but it is truly unique, in that alongside generating a significant economic contribution to the UK our universities have a hugely positive global impact, creating opportunity for millions of learners and helping address some of the most pressing global challenges.”

The report The costs and benefits of international higher education students to the UK , was published by Universities UK International (UUKi), the Higher Education Policy Institute (HEPI) and Kaplan International Pathways in collaboration with London Economics.

An international student’s experience

Sabrina Haque is studying the Future Food Sustainability MSc at Cranfield. Sabrina is from Bangladesh and said: “I’ve been working in the development sector for the last ten years in Bangladesh. A lot of farming activities have changed, techniques have changed, new technology has emerged. I thought it's the best time for me to get back to the education, get back to the theory and learn something, what are the new things are happening around the world, so that when I go back to my country, I can implement those.

“Cranfield is the best place because you have a lot of professionals here. Plus, you will be able to learn from the industry, where the industry is going. It's the best place to accelerate your career.”