The real worth of students: contributing £82 billion a year to the economy

Students and the economy

By Pamela Head,

Students are contributing £82 billion to the British economy and are supporting 830,000 jobs – more than the total population of the city of Liverpool, a study by NUS has found.

The report highlights the simple value of students living within a community. We spend on accommodation, on transport, living costs and not only that, we attract friends and relatives to the area who do the same.

We now pay tuition fees of £9,000 a year. We can expect to earn more once we graduate because we have degrees, and as such will pay higher income tax. We’re also more likely to avoid unemployment thanks to our years of study, so the government will save a pretty penny there too.

For every pound invested into higher education, graduates return £3.22 of pure profit to the exchequer over their lifetimes. It’s clear to see our worth. We’re even more valuable to the economy than the ridiculed HS2, which will only earn £1.20 profit for every pound spent on it.

Of course we’ve all heard the criticisms of students. We’re messy, we’re noisy, we leave rubbish piling up, destroy houses and we show no respect for neighbours.

But we rarely hear the good side of it. The hours upon hours of volunteering, whether it’s putting together a local radio show, litter picking in towns and village greens or raising money for homeless charities. We’re the employees who serve you your fast food, or make you that much-needed morning coffee. We’re the future, training to become your children’s teachers, or nurses, or lawyers. Wait, scrap that last one.

We’ve always known we bring value to the country, but this report puts a monetary value on it for the first time and it’s an important step. NUS president Toni Pearce said: “This report demonstrates the very day to day benefits that students bring to local, regional and national economies and the enormous employment figures that student subsistence supports.”

But it does raise a question. If higher education students contribute to the broader economy both in the short and the long term, then can we really afford not to invest public funds in higher education?

We’re invaluable to the UK and it’s time we stand up and get some of the appreciation we deserve. Go students!