Universities Scotland takes positive case for overseas students studying in Scotland to UK Parliament with launch of new report

New report underlines the social, cultural and educational value of overseas students to Scotland

Universities Scotland launches a new report today (Tuesday 3 September) on the social, cultural and educational value of international students to Scotland. The report will be taken to MPs at Westminster, as part of a reception hosted by Universities Scotland and sponsored by Pete Wishart MP, to be attended by university Principals and the Secretary of State for Scotland.

The economic benefit of attracting international students to Scotland is well documented at an estimated £337 million every year in fees and an estimated £441 million in off-campus expenditure. The report makes the case that the social and cultural contribution of international student is just as valuable as the economic contribution and looks into the various different ways these wider contributions are felt.

The report, Richer for It: The positive social, cultural and educational impact international students have on Scotland, explores:

  • the enrichment of the university learning experience for home students as a result of learning alongside international students;
  • the development of an international outlook amongst home students and graduates; an attribute which is sought after by 79 per cent of UK employers;
  • positive contributions made to the wider community; and
  • the accumulation of “soft power” for Scotland as a product of the vast network of alumni around the world who maintain strong connections to Scotland and serve as informal ambassadors for a country they perceive as a second home. Thus Scotland’s international students have a powerful role in helping shape Scotland’s place in the world.

MPs will also preview a new video of overseas student testimonials of their positive higher education experience in Scotland. This positive collection of stories follows the finding of the International Student Barometer that 90% of international students are satisfied with their experience in Scotland, some 2.3% higher than the global average. Some 46% of international students choose their university on the basis of recommendations from friends making this is a powerful endorsement for Scotland’s universities.

On the important contribution of overseas students, Chair of Universities Scotland’s International Committee and Principal and Vice Chancellor of the University of Aberdeen, Professor Sir Ian Diamond said:


“Scottish universities have a very strong record of attracting international students and have the world-leading teaching and research credentials needed to compete successfully in a fiercely competitive and truly global recruitment environment.

“The true value of international students is much greater than can be quantified in monetary terms alone. The social, cultural and educational benefits gained from having international students study and live with us are immense. This is something I see every day at my own institution, the University of Aberdeen where we have over 120 nationalities represented, and I know to be the case at every university in Scotland.

“International alumni contribute to the spread and reach of Scottish universities. Scottish universities train the next generation of business leaders and policy influencers and many of our former students have gone on to become our partners and ambassadors for Scottish higher education and Scotland more widely, and leaders in their own countries. International recruitment is hugely important to our institutions and to Scotland, and is part of the comprehensive internationalisation agenda that is sweeping through our institutions.”


Professor Diamond also welcomed the International Education Strategy published by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) at the end of July which includes a target of growing the number of international students in higher education by 15-20% over the next five years.

Professor Diamond said:


“Scotland’s universities welcome the clear messages that the BIS International Education Strategy articulates in terms of welcoming genuine international students in the UK and that dispelling misunderstanding around a cap on numbers. In particular, Scottish institutions welcome the target of a 15-20 per cent increase in international students studying in the UK over the next five years.

“We call for every part of the UK Government to work consistently to achieve this target and ask that the UK Government implements immigration policies and visa procedures in a way that is consistent with the strategy’s commitment to growing international student numbers.”



Read Universities Scotland’s Richer for It report [large file]