Student migration and value of HE as a major export

22 February 2018

Responding to new figures published today on migration trends and revenue from education-related exports, a Russell Group spokesperson said:

“The ONS data showing an increase in the number of non-EU nationals coming to the UK to study is welcome news and reflects what our members have been telling us about the number of overseas students starting courses this academic year.

“In a separate report, Department for Education data has confirmed the increasing value of higher education as a major export industry. Importantly, it highlights the immense economic contribution of international students coming to study at Russell Group and other UK universities. They generated over £11 billion of the total £13.5 billion export figure for higher education in 2015.  And it’s not just their economic benefit that is so invaluable. International students from the EU and beyond contribute to a diverse student body and a thriving society, culture and economy – on campus, in local regions and across the whole UK.


“With the right conditions, our universities have the potential to grow this market further and, by doing so, achieve one of the key aims of the industrial strategy to drive up exports overall.  

“That’s why we are calling on the Government to ensure the UK’s offer to international students is competitive, so we can continue to attract these students and secure the benefits they bring. An ambitious cross-government international higher education strategy would send a positive and powerful message globally of the country’s ambition to grow international education and research links.”

Policy area

Related case studies