Foreign Students Bring More to Wales Than Simply Money; the Impact of Foreign Students on the Welsh Economy Was This Week Unveiled in a Report Commissioned by Sector Leaders. Here, Professor Noel Lloyd, Vice-Chancellor of Aberystwyth University and Chair of Higher Education Wales, Looks at Why the Nation's Door Is Firmly Open

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Byline: Noel Lloyd

THE internationalisation of higher education brings many benefits to Wales and to the world. As the Western Mail featured yesterday ("Foreign students pumping pounds 237m into Welsh economy, study finds") a report from Oxford Economics shows that nearly a quarter of a billion pounds is contributed to the Welsh economy by international and EU students. This means that more than 9,000 jobs in our communities are sustained by the presence of students from overseas.

This study also demonstrates the wider long-term economic benefits for Wales of international and EU students. Positive experiences of our universities contribute to a higher international profile for our nation and helps foster future business and cultural links.

Yet the immediate economic contribution of international and EU students is not one that should be downplayed at a time of economic challenge. This report shows that these economic benefits are much larger than previously thought and include a pounds 23m annual boost to the tourist industry in Wales.

The agenda for international engagement in higher education is a broad one and is about themes that go beyond student recruitment. This is reflected in the way in which the internationalisation of higher education in Wales is embedded not only in the Assembly Government's higher education strategy, For our Future, but also in its Economic Renewal programme. University curricula now incorporate important global themes. The input of academic staff from overseas helps cross-fertilise scholarship and helps to enrich our research base - more than a third of newly appointed researchers in some institutions come from beyond the UK. This in turn helps develop the knowledge networks required for economic renewal, helping deliver the ambition to make Wales an attractive place to invest in.

The benefits of a university education at a Welsh university for international students are clear. Wales is a welcoming nation with universities committed to ensuring that students benefit from their learning and cultural experience in Wales. …