Report Indicates That Northern Ireland’s Economy Gains £1 Billion from International Student Growth

A new report has revealed that international student numbers in Northern Ireland’s universities have nearly quadrupled in just four years. In 2018/19, there were around 4,000 international students studying in Northern Ireland, whereas in 2021/22 this number has increased to over 14,500. The report, published by the Higher Education Policy Institute and the UK University of International Studies, estimates that international students are worth nearly £1 billion to Northern Ireland’s economy.

The report breaks down the economic impact of international students by region, with South Belfast considered to benefit the most from the presence of international students. Countries such as India, China and the Philippines are among the top countries represented by international students in Northern Ireland.

While part of the increase in international student numbers is due to courses offered by the University of Ulster in Birmingham and London, as well as part-time modules for nurses and midwives abroad seeking registration in the UK, the report suggests that the diversification of campuses and an improvement in the learning environment have brought more than just economic benefits.

For many international students, Northern Ireland has become a second home, with many citing the tolerant and welcoming nature of the people as a key factor in their decision to stay beyond graduation. Non-EU students are valued contributors to the Northern Ireland economy, with many paying much higher tuition fees than local, EU and UK students.

Overall, the report highlights the significant benefits of international students to Northern Ireland’s universities and economy, with their contributions expected to continue to grow in the years to come.

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