October 18, 2016, by Toni Favill

Five Killer Facts About International Students

International Students are in the news. Should we have more? Or fewer? Should they be counted in the net migration target? Should we care?

We live in a sound bite world. So here are my five killer facts about International Students.

Photo 2 - UNNC Students 1First, diversity. Diversity is good, be it social, cultural, ethnic, demographic. It promotes creativity, understanding, cohesion; all of which are important to personal development and building social capital.

This is especially true during a period of transformation, and there are few periods in life quite so transformative as University years. I am in no doubt the 10,000 non-UK students we have at Nottingham make University a more enriching and transformative experience for our domestic students.

And that is equally true of the University of Nottingham Ningbo China, and University of Nottingham Malaysia Campus.

Second, talent. To become great, Universities need talent. The best talent. Clearly attracting the brightest and the best from the wider world, as well as our own country can only be good for talent development. That seems to be a given for Premier League football, but needs to be proven over and over again for International Students.

Moreover, individuals who come to study help provide talent to world-class Faculties. In my own discipline 38% of Faculty are from other EU Member States, almost 60% are from outside the UK. And that is not because of a shortage of home students taking undergraduate programmes in Economics. Much the same is true in Computer Science, Mathematics and Engineering.Photo 2 - International Scholarship

Third, income generation and jobs. According to BIS and UUK calculations, non-UK students and their visitors create over 63,000 jobs in the UK. An independent report we commissioned last year estimated that The University of Nottingham’s International Students underpin 2,200 of those jobs.

Fourth, exports. Higher Education is one of the UK’s most successful export industries. It contributes more than £10 billion each year in overseas earnings; £4 billion from tuition fees alone. That makes it a top 10 export activity; more important than chemicals, telecoms, food and drink and many others.

Photo 7 - GraduationFifth, soft power. A 2012 BIS survey showed that 78% of international graduates intended to develop professional links with organisations in Britain, and 86% remain connected to their University.

And a high proportion of the UK’s International Students go on to leadership positions in their home countries: business leaders, civic leaders, political leaders. Our alumni not only provide the hard wiring for business-to-business relationships, they underpin the UK’s astonishing soft power. And make no mistake, this asset will become more rather than less important post Brexit.

I am left wondering what the reaction would be if I were to propose imposing export controls on the pharmaceutical, aerospace, or automotive sectors, with the attendant risk to exports and jobs this would inevitably bring?

Professor Sir David Greenaway


This article first appeared in The Times on October 15th 2016.

Posted in AlumnibusinessCampusesHigher EducationInternationalUncategorized