Students bring more than £80 billion of spending into the British economy, supporting 830,000 jobs, according to new research from the NUS.
In fact, for each pound invested into higher education, graduates return £3.22 of pure profit to the exchequer, over their lifetimes. By comparison, the proposed high speed rail link (HS2) from London to the north is thought to be worth around £1.20 to the economy for every pound spent.
In Scotland, students account for 1.3 per cent of GDP - incredibly, almost four people in every 100 is employed as a result of student spending, over 109,000 in total. 35,000 jobs in Wales are supported directly or indirectly by student spend.
The effect of students on the economy is even more pronounced in individual cities. The University of Birmingham supports a total of 11,800 jobs - 3,000 from student spend alone - generating £460 million, or 2.2 per cent of Birmingham’s economic wealth.
The University of West London meanwhile supports 300 jobs directly in the local area, or 2,000 in total, creating an additional £60.4m.
NUS president Toni Pearce believes 'students are instrumental in creating a stronger economy and a fairer, more prosperous society'.
"It’s time that the simple value of students living within a community is recognised," she said. “Every party, every MP, every councillor needs to realise the crucial benefit that student subsistence brings. We know a great deal about the wider benefits that investment in education brings – to both society and the individuals themselves.
“But 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.”
Graham Randles, managing director of nef consulting, who conducted the research, said: "The more subtle message of our report is that the economic impact of students is especially important in those parts of the country where the arrival of a new wave of young people each year provides a stimulus to regional economies. This is particularly the case in the less prosperous regions of the country where students can play an irreplaceable role in supporting economic activity and jobs."
Read the full report here