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International students are critical to the success of our University and to creating a vibrant and diverse global academic community that benefits everybody.

Durham is a welcoming place for all students, both UK and international. All students benefit from a quality education and wider student experience while they are studying with us.  

Retention of the Graduate Route

We welcome the news, along with higher education sector organisations The Russell Group and Universities UK, that the UK Government’s Graduate Route will be retained.

This is a successful outcome. Durham University supports measures to ensure the system is robust, and we are grateful to the UK Government for this decision.

The graduate route  provides an opportunity for international students who have been awarded their degree to stay in the UK and work, or look for work, at any skill level for two years, or three years for doctoral students.  

It has enabled the UK to be globally competitive in attracting students to study in the UK, work here after graduating and build Britain’s profile across the world.  

A reputation as a world leader in education 

The reputation of our higher education is an asset for the UK. It is a success story that our universities, including Durham, attract people from around the world.  

Some of the world’s most successful people began their careers at universities in the UK, including Durham.  

Contribution of international students to the UK economy

International students also bring a considerable range of cultural, social and economic benefits to the UK and our city and region of North East England.  

The income we receive from international students we reinvest in our world-leading education and research. Directly and indirectly, international students have a positive impact on the economy of our city, North East England and the UK, helping very many businesses and services to thrive.  

International students working in the UK on the Graduate Route after completing their studies provided a total net benefit to the UK of £70 million in 2022/23, according to new analysis by the Higher Education Policy Institute (HEPI).  

Modelling by London Economics shows that, nationally, a single cohort of international students produces a net economic benefit of £37 billion.  

International students also provide an average net economic benefit of £40 million per parliamentary constituency across the whole of the UK.  

Nurturing diverse communities and building relationships  

The diverse educational community that international students help to foster allows all students to benefit from an exchange of expertise and contribute to an enriched university experience.  It enables them to discover new cultures and languages, broadening their world view. 

 Alongside the economic benefits, surveys have shown international students benefit from the UK higher education experience by bringing an outward-looking culture to campuses and preparing students for working in a global environment.  

 In 2023, over one-quarter of the world’s countries (58) were headed by someone educated in the UK, which is second only to the USA (65), according to research by HEPI.  

Case studies:

Spin-out companies that benefit our city and region

A Durham University spin out company, Kromek Group plc, specialising in digital colour x-ray imaging, attracted the attention of investors worldwide after its shares began trading on AIM, the London Stock Exchange’s international market for growing companies. 

Led by Durham alumnus, Dr Arnab Basu, who was born and raised in Calcutta, India, the company has grown to over 150 employees in the last 20 years, spanning two continents.

Arnab, who came to the UK as an international student, has a PhD in physics from Durham. He is a prominent figure within the business community, receiving an MBE for services to regional development and international trade in 2014.

Durham alumna and innovative entrepreneur, Yuru Guo, from China, was inspired by her time at Durham to start business venture: Hey! Food is Ready. The idea was simple: create a marketplace where cooks from around the world living in Britain could sell their culturally inspired dishes.

The venture, founded in September 2021, now represents cooks from across the UK. Every day, there are different voices, recipes, and cooks sharing their unique experiences and stories.

Strengthening our international relationships  

The Indonesian Ambassador to the UK, Dr Desra Percaya, graduated from Durham University and recently returned to his alma mater as part of a mission to strengthen relationships between our two countries.  

The Indonesian government is keen to encourage collaboration with Durham and other prestigious overseas institutions as part of a strategy to share skills and knowledge.

The Indonesian education system is the fourth largest in the world with more than 50 million students, three million teachers, and 300,000 education institutions nationwide. 

The benefits of studying overseas

The Durham MBA has a global profile and reputation and attracts candidates from around the world, with some notable alumni. 

Durham alumnus, Steve Marshall, former Premier of South Australia, used his studies at our University to help develop the intellectual rigour critical to successfully managing a $25 billion State budget and a $265 billion economy.   

He said: “The decision to attend Durham University was an easy one – the international reputation of the Business School, the fact it attracted students from around the world and the sheer beauty of the city were just some of the attractions of studying in Durham.  

“The lifelong friendships and valuable contacts I made amongst my fellow students further enhanced the experience of studying at England’s third oldest university.”

Sector response to the retention of the Graduate Route

Russell Group (23 May 2024): “We welcome the news that the Graduate Route remains in place. As recognised by the MAC’s recent report, international students bring huge value to our universities, our communities and our economy. The actions that Government has laid out today, such as additional regulations on agents, will help to protect the quality and integrity of the UK’s education offer and we are ready to work with Government and colleagues across the sector to implement these. Stability is now needed in student migration policy to enable universities to plan for a long-term, sustainable future and protect quality and choice for all students".

Universities UK (23 May 2024): Vivienne Stern MBE, Chief Executive of Universities UK, said: “It is a huge relief to have confirmation from Government that the graduate route remains in place.  

“We share the Government’s commitment to tackling any abuse of the visa system and support efforts to tighten restrictions on agents, which are in line with much of what we have proposed. We will work diligently with Government to ensure we maintain a high level of trust and confidence in the way universities recruit and support international students. It is in all our interests that we do so, given the enormous value that international students bring to the whole of the UK, and not just to universities themselves. What we need now is a period of stability, and a shared commitment to delivering a stable and well managed international student landscape.”

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