How do international students contribute to a regional economy? After London Higher was established, the post-secondary education umbrella group set out to answer that very question. The results are eye-opening: According to a 2011 study conducted by PA Consulting Group, among the 43 publicly funded institutions of higher education in London, and the almost 400 other institutions or privately accredited education providers, international students account for a growing proportion of enrolment. They inject significant sums into the London economy via fees, housing and living outlays, and visits from parents and friends. They add about £5.7 billion annually into the London economy, and create 94,000 direct and indirect jobs.
But, the report noted, “There are also many other wider economic impacts which should be taken into account when considering the dividend from international students in London.” The report states that international students improve the global reputation of an institution and its ability to attract research funding and partnerships with overseas institutions; they are an important source of skilled labour for London employers; and some of them start up their own enterprises in London, generating spin-off benefits for the city.
University of Toronto President Meric Gertler points out that a fifth of U of T’s undergrads are international students, and his conclusions about their role in the city’s future well-being echo those of the PA study: “They are drawn here, in increasing numbers, for the same reason: to learn from – and work with – our leading scholars. And many of them stay in Canada once they graduate, building careers, spurring creativity and innovation in one sector of the economy after another, catalyzing entrepreneurial activity, and strengthening our society in countless ways.”