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Figures: UK education exports hit £19.9bn

Education exports and transnational education activity was estimated to be £19.9 billion in 2016, according to newly released UK government statistics, which indicates a 26% increase from 2010 figures.

UK education export revenue rose by 22% over six years, government statistics show. Photo: pxhere

Independent schools improved their revenue streams from £630m in 2010 to £930m, an increase of 48%.

Over six years, total education exports increased by 22% to £18.1bn, while TNE activity revenue rose by 73%, reaching £1.9bn.

Revenue from HEIs make up the majority of the total export figures, with £13.4bn for 2016. That is 67% of total export revenue, while products & services and TNE revenue both account for £1.9bn for the year each.

“There are big growth opportunities in areas like education technology, and partner campuses”

According to the statistics, revenue from ELT dropped from £2.2bn in 2010 to £1.5bn, a 31% drop.

Independent schools improved their revenue streams from £630m in 2010 to £930m, an increase of 48%.

The figures “underline the importance” of education to the UK economy, said education minister Damian Hinds in a statement.

“International university students constitute an important earnings source for our universities but they are also an important part of Britain’s cultural influence in the world,” he said. “As well as this, there are big growth opportunities in areas like education technology, services and satellite or partner campuses.”

The UK will work to “maintain and grow” the country’s education offer in the years to come, he added.

Director of UUKi, Vivienne Stern, noted that the figures highlight the hugely beneficial economic impact of the UK higher education sector.

While UK minister for investment Graham Stuart said “more and more” students are coming to the UK to study and immigration changes will make the UK even friendlier as a place to study and work, Stern said growth had been stagnating.

“The UK’s growth has not kept pace with other major study destinations such as Australia, New Zealand and Canada,” Stern noted.

“While the growth shown between 2015 and 2016 highlights that a UK university education is still in high demand, growth in the UK’s provision of higher education to international students has stagnated following changes to student migration policy made in 2012,” she said.

“The UK’s growth has not kept pace with other major study destinations”

Both Stern and Stuart see potential in the upcoming International Education Strategy, however.

“We look forward to producing a refreshed International Education Strategy this year and working with the sector to grow even faster in global markets,” Stuart explained, while Stern said it offers a “real opportunity to rectify this plateau in growth”.

UUKi hopes the government “swiftly” introduces proposals made in the government’s recent white paper, which seeks to extend the time international students can stay in the UK to look for work after graduating for a period of up to one year for PhD students and six months for others.

“However, we also believe it is necessary to go further, with a two-year Global Graduate Talent visa, that would make the UK more attractive to students and would allow a wider range of employers, in all parts of the UK, to benefit from access to talented graduates from around the world,” Stern added.

Sarah Cooper, chief executive of English UK, said the drop in ELT revenue from 2010-16 is not a surprise, as it “mirrors the decline” in students numbers from 2014- 2016 that the organisation captured in its data analysis.

The UK ELT has recovered since 2016, she said, as English UK statistics have revealed. It’s member schools reported a 14% rise in student numbers in 2017, and its QUIC data for 2018 shows that this recovery continued in the first half of the year, Cooper explained.

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