Overseas students at the University of Cambridge add £3 million to the Cambridge economy each year, a new study has revealed.

At the moment the University of Cambridge is home to over 1,000 international students from 120 countries. Last year, 18 per cent of undergraduate students came from outside of the UK as well as half of all graduates.

The study, which was released by Santander Bank last month, found that these international students contributed significantly to the local economy thanks to the decreasing value of the pound.

According to the study, the average Cambridge student spends £93 a week in the local community.

Thirty-six per cent of students’ disposable income is spent on going to bars, clubs and restaurants while clothes shopping accounts for another twenty-eight per cent.

Since the fall in value of sterling the spending power of foreign students has increased allowing them to contribute more to the Cambridge economy than their UK counterparts       .

For example, American students who graduated this year have enjoyed an extra 25 per cent of spending in comparison with when they started their degrees in 2007.

An overseas student remarked, "Since the depreciation of the pound against my own currency I’ve found that I have more money to spend in shops. Just over the last year alone I have had ten to fifteen per cent more cash on hand than in previous years."

However Rahul Mansigani, CUSU President, is aware that despite statistics, "Cambridge students of all backgrounds spend varying amounts and international students can often be in need of financial support too."

In light of this, Santander has set aside £3.75 million to invest in British universities, including the scholarship programme for overseas students, which is also available to students from the UK.

Luis Juste, UK director for Santander Universities, is keen to stress the benefit of international students to the UK economy.

He said, "Foreign students should be viewed as an opportunity, not a threat, and I believe they are a key element in economic recovery as well as a key support to our higher education institutions now and in the future."

A second-year law student echoed these remarks when he said, "It is great to know that overseas students contribute so much to the economy.

"But, their real contribution is to the intellectual life of the University. By bringing in new ideas, they add to and enrich the academic environment at Cambridge."

The fact that foreign students pay more for their tuition fees that UK students has, however, caused concern among the British Council who have warned UK universities that they should not use international students as "cash cows" to compensate for financial difficulties.

This warning was released at the same time as Higher Education Statistics Agency (Hesa) figures for 2008-9. These figures show an increase of 6,000 students from the EU and 20,000 students from outside the EU in comparison with the previous year.