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Foreign students making “positive economic impact” on EU

A new study from the European Migrant Network has underlined the positive economic impact international students make on countries across the European Union in the form of direct fees, taxes or participation in the labour market. The Immigration of International Students to the EU also notes the growing prevalence of recruitment strategies to attract non-EU students.

The UK and Ireland benefit most from course fees, with students contributing €2.6 billion and €140 million respectively

The study, which consulted 24 EU members, claims factors affecting the economic gain from international students include the number of  students in the country, the amount of fees charged and the level of government subsidies.

The UK and Ireland are said to benefit the most from course fees, with students contributing €2.6 billion and €140 million respectively.

“Overall, the economic impacts of international students are considered to be positive in the EU”

In other states, funds from taxes, living expenses and tourism offer most gain. In the Netherlands, tax revenue from foreign students is expected to reach €740 million because of the 19% stay rate of international students. In Italy student living expenses contribute around €718.5 million, or 0.05% of national GDP.

“Overall, the [economic] impacts are considered to be positive [in the EU], with international students making in some cases substantial contributions to national revenue streams, through the payment of educational fees and in local labour markets and economies through their employment contributions and community spending on living costs,” states the report.

The study shows that the number of international students in the EU rose 114% between 2000 and 2010, making it the number one region for study abroad worldwide. The  member states who saw the largest increase in student visas issued from 2008 to 2011 was led by the UK, followed by France, Spain and Italy.

Not surprisingly, most states have international student recruitment strategies in place. One used across many member states is the delivery of education in foreign languages, particularly English. Examples include the Netherlands which offers roughly 75% of all international study programmes in English, and the Polytechnic University of Milan, which will offer all master and PhD courses in English from 2014.

Fast-track student admissions systems are also quite common. So too post-study work incentives, which also channel foreign students into particular labour market gaps. Examples include establishing study programmes in necessary fields (such as nursing in Finland) and setting up mentoring programmes within the business sector (such as the Mentoring for Migrants programme in Austria).

One strategy identified across member states is the delivery of education in foreign languages, mostly English

Such strategies also serve a political function, claims the report: “There seems to be great interest to attract students from emerging economies in an attempt to strengthen economic ties with these nations,”

The European Migrant Network said it carried out the report to inform policy makers across the EU. It concludes that “further legislative action at the EU level, aiming to provide for further improvements in admission conditions, rights during stay, including mobility, and ensuring safeguards for third-country nationals” will improve the EU’s overall status as a centre of for education.

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