The Government has commissioned research to establish the value of UK overseas trade and investment in higher and further education and research.
The Department for Business, Innovation & Skills has written to Tier 4 Sponsors to encourage organisations to take part in a new survey “Estimating the value to the UK of overseas trade and investment in higher and further education and research”.
BIS said the Government is keen to support the UK education sector to develop international partnerships. Not only does this increase the UK’s profile on the world stage but also it provides the education sector with opportunities to attract revenue from overseas, which contributes to the UK economy.
The Department for Business Innovation and Skills (BIS) has commissioned London Economics to establish a ‘comprehensive estimate of the current total value of overseas trade and investment due to the UK Higher and Further Education sectors (including teaching, research, English language training and other training for adults, as well as businesses providing services to these sectors) and an estimate of the total value of the foreign direct investment that those sectors attract’.
As part of their research, London Economics are conducting a survey of educational institutions to address identified gaps in the available data in relation to income from overseas sources.
The survey consists of up to 13 questions and should take no more than 30 minutes to complete, and responses will help ‘establish the contribution of the education sector to the UK economy and inform forward-looking analysis that will identify areas with strong future growth potential for UK institutions’. The output of the research will be published in a BIS Research Report.
Previous estimates of the value of education from overseas students alone to the UK economy range from £8 billion to £40 billion depending on how widely the benefits are attributed.
Professor Steve Smith, president of vice-chancellors’ umbrella group, Universities UK, and vice-chancellor of Exeter University recently noted in the Guardian that the cap:
‘..could be a serious blow to the UK market in the face of huge competition from other countries that are investing in higher education… with the investment that competitor countries such as the US and China are putting into universities makes them more likely to poach staff at British universities. All of which amounts to a serious worry.’
Foreign students are estimated to account for as much as 30% of the revenue of some universities.
James Pitman, the managing director of Study Group recently pointed out in the Financial Times, that any reduction in student numbers would be ‘disastrous for the UK’s fragile economy’ given that education and training exports are worth almost 40 Billion – representing the second biggest contributor to the UK’s net balance of payments behind financial Services.
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