GREAT ‘Study UK’ campaign drives growth and generates £407 million for UK economy


International students attracted to UK universities by the GREAT ‘Study UK’ campaign and enrolled in 2021/22 will generate £407m for the economy during the course of their degrees.

The GREAT Britain and Northern Ireland campaign (GREAT) is the government’s flagship international communications programme.

The objective is to drive economic growth across the entire nation by encouraging an international audience to visit, study, trade, invest, live and work in the UK.

The campaign, delivered in partnership with the British Council, uses a combination of marketing channels and scholarship opportunities to promote the quality and opportunities of UK higher education to students worldwide; highlighting reasons why the UK is a first-choice study destination.

Across the four nations, the estimated economic benefit of international students attracted to the UK by the GREAT campaign is:

  • England £339.1m
  • Scotland £44.4m
  • Wales £18.4m
  • Northern Ireland £5.1m

The campaign supports the government’s levelling up ambition, with many parts of the UK benefiting economically and culturally from international students.

Projected economic benefit across cities in the UK include:

  • Greater Manchester £13.3m
  • Liverpool £4.7m
  • Newcastle £6.0 m
  • Leeds £7.7m
  • Sheffield £7.1m
  • Birmingham £11.6m
  • Bristol £4.0m
  • Edinburgh £8.5m
  • Glasgow £9.1m
  • Cardiff £5.0m
  • Belfast £1.6m

The success of the GREAT ‘Study UK’ campaign is well evidenced, for example Teesside University experienced a 40% increase on 2020/21 international student enrolments from markets where GREAT scholarships were offered.

Cabinet Office Minister Jake Berry said:

“The GREAT ‘Study UK’ campaign attracts and supports international students to study in the UK. International students drive growth in local economies across the country, they also enrich the university experience, bringing greater diversity and an international viewpoint for all students.”

Higher education is a significant export for the UK. The 2018/2019 cohort of international students generated £28.8 billion for the UK economy according to a report by the Higher Education Policy Institute .

Maddalaine Ansell, Director Education, British Council said:

“International students not only make our universities vibrant and cosmopolitan but also, through getting to know and understand us, can become life long ambassadors for not only UK Education but our values and way of life.

“Many international graduates go on to play important roles in the political, economic, scientific and cultural life of their own countries and their knowledge of, and affection for, the UK means we have friends in many places.”

Minister for Skills Andrea Jenkyns said:

“Attracting the brightest students from around the world is good for our universities and delivers growth at home, as well as supporting the creation of more places for UK students.

“We’ve already smashed the target set in our International Education Strategy to attract 600,000 international students per year to study here – hitting it for the first time almost ten years early – and we are now focusing on bringing in £35bn from our education exports by 2030.”

Doug W Pearce, International Recruitment, University of Leeds

“The wider UK HE sector sees great value in the British Council’s efforts including the GREAT campaign to continue to build a strong brand profile of the UK as one of the top study destinations worldwide.”

Shonagh Maak, International Recruitment Manager, University of Glasgow

“Our international students enhance the learning environment of our campus, contribute to research output and add immense value to the cultural vibrancy of our campus and the wider community in Glasgow.”


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