Sheffield universities respond as report suggests plunge in EU student numbers due to Brexit and Covid is set to cost millions
International students pump £290m into Sheffield Central every year new figures show - amid fears the total could fall due to Covid and Brexit.
Analysis of the 2018/19 academic year makes it the top constituency in the country for ‘net economic impact’ - worth an average of £2,520 per person.
In total, international students bring in £25.9 billion to the UK, according to Universities UK International.
But university bosses are worried - EU undergraduate numbers are 56 per cent down nationally this year due to uncertainty caused by Covid-19 and changes to the tuition fee structure for EU students after Brexit.
A Sheffield University spokeswoman said it was too early to comment on this year's intake as students were still registering, although demand was 'high’.
Vivienne Stern, director of Universities UK International, said the figures were a ‘stark reminder’ of students’ financial importance to the UK - especially in the North.
She added: “While there has been a growing realisation of the tremendous social and cultural benefits of international students, this study provides a stark reminder of their financial importance to communities across the UK, economic recovery and the levelling up agenda.
“We now need fresh ideas and stronger momentum to achieve the UK government’s international education strategy target of attracting at least 600,000 international students every year by 2030 and the good this will bring to everyone.”
Prof Koen Lamberts, president and vice-chancellor at the University of Sheffield, said: “This report reflects the extensive contribution that our international students make, not only to our university but to the wider community.
“During their time at university, international students play a vital role working on placements in local hospitals and businesses, volunteering for more than 140 Sheffield charities and schools and also enriching the cultural life of the city.”
Prof Sir Chris Husbands, Sheffield Hallam University vice-chancellor, said: “This timely report highlights what we in universities have always known – that international students bring huge benefits, not just to the local economy but also to the social fabric of our universities and local community more broadly.
“The global pandemic restrained our capacity to welcome international students, but now as the world reopens, it is vital that we promote and encourage international students to come back to our world-leading universities.”