A report released by Universities Wales this week outlines the benefits that international students bring to Wales, but it also shows a decline in student numbers from outside of Europe.
Viewforth Consulting conducted the research, and found that in 2015/16, international students and their visitors generated £716m of Welsh output, which generated the equivalent of 6850 full-time jobs.
The report from Universities Wales said that international students paid Welsh universities £185.18 million in 2015/16. Of that £150.52 million came from tuition fees from non-EU students.
It also estimated that non-EU students had an total off-campus expenditure of £208.77 million in that same period.
Of the top ten countries that sent students to Welsh universities in 2013/14, only China, Saudi Arabia and Hong Kong saw student numbers increase, according to the paper.
Student recruitment from Kuwait also rose, but more sharply, up by around 68% to a total of 505 students.
Student numbers from China increased by 90 since the last study. Hong Kong sent 70 more students and Saudi Arabia sent an extra five.
“Numbers of students from South Asia fell across UK Higher Education but Wales appears to have been disproportionately affected”
However, it’s a different story for students from South Asia. 2,915 fewer students from Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, Nepal and Sri Lanka arrived to study in Wales in 2015/16 compared to two years previous.
Bangladeshi and Indian student numbers dropped by more than half. Previously in 2013/14 India sent 1780 students and Bangladesh 1340. In 2015/16, those numbers dropped to 845 Indians and 505 Bangladeshis.
In 2015/16 Chinese students made up 29% of non-EU students studying at Welsh universities, while Indians made up around 5% and Bangladeshis around 3%, according to figures from HESA.
Two years previous, Indian students made up almost 9% of international students and Bangladeshis made up around 6.7%.
“Numbers of students from South Asia fell across UK Higher Education but Wales appears to have been disproportionately affected –overall UK numbers dropped by 22% in the two-year period compared to a 59% fall in Wales,” the report said.
It says that tighter immigration and visa controls have affected non-EU student admissions.
“The most likely reason for these quite noticeable changes is the stricter Home Office immigration and visa regulations affecting non-EU student admissions,” the paper stated.
Cardiff University, which has almost 6,000 EU and international students from over 100 countries, explained that overall it had seen an increase in international student numbers over recent years, despite the drops witnessed in the report.
A university spokesperson gave The PIE News growth figures of 14.5% since 2013/14.
The impact that international students have on the Welsh capital is highly valuable, according to the university.
“Diversity benefits us socially and culturally, fosters creativity and innovation, and contributes enormously to making us a dynamic and vibrant university,” the spokesperson added.
“Our overseas students also contribute a great deal economically to Cardiff, Wales and the UK. The most recent report, by London Economics, on Cardiff University’s economic impact showed that our 2014/15 cohort of non-UK students contributed more than £217m to the economy and supported more than 2,000 jobs in Wales.”
In 2015, The PIE News reported that one Welsh job was created for every three non-EU students in the country.
Numbers of students from Europe remain much unchanged, according to Universities Wales report.