Students are funding the recovery from the recession, it was claimed at a Conservative Party Conference fringe meeting yesterday.
NUS President Liam Burns made the claim at a University Alliance hosted meeting to find out how universities contribute towards economic growth in Manchester, on Tuesday.
He said: “The student is funding for the system and the recession.”
Graduates contribute 20 to 40 percent to the economic market and are worth five billion per year.
Rt Hon David Willetts, MP said: “Universities as consumers are the drivers of economic activity.
“Graduates are smart consumers.”
The recent cuts mean that student fees will double in September next year for many leading universities, rising from £3,375 to £9,000 following cuts of 80 percent in grants from central government.
This means vast numbers of students will be knee deep in debt after graduating.
Although ministers predicted that few universities would charge the full £9,000, recent figures show that more than a third, 47 out of 123 universities, will demand the maximum.
Last year, the government predicted that the average fee would be around £7,500 but the actual average will be £8,393.
Therefore, loans won’t be balanced with repayments until 2027.
Janet Beer, Chair of University Alliance challenged the NUS president’s stance. She said: “Students are willing to contribute their knowledge for free.”
Welsh universities provide business and generate 10 percent of UK university revenue.
Hushpreet Dhaliwal, Chief Executive at National Consortium of University Entrepreneurs, explained: “The greatest return in investment is the potential of student communities.
“Students are beneficial for economic growth.”