Foreign students' cultural and social contribution is "immense" and just as valuable as the economic benefits they provide, a new report into Scottish society has revealed.
Scotland benefits "immeasurably" from the impact of the 28,500 international students who have opted to study in the country, according to the "Richer for it" publication. The report, by Universities Scotland, lists positive impacts within the wider community and an enrichment of learning experience for other students among the benefits.
"The business and economic dimension of international students tends to dominate in media and policy circles but the true value of international students is much greater than can be quantified in monetary terms alone," said Professor Sir Ian Diamond, vice chancellor of Aberdeen University.
"The social, cultural and educational benefits gained from having international students study and live with us are immense."
In 2011-12, international students made up 13% of Scotland's student body, compared to 12% of the UK's.
The report states: "Quite understandably home students benefit the most from the presence of a large and vibrant population of international students.. However.. their impact goes much wider than this.
"It reaches into the communities beyond university walls and brings returns to Scotland as a nation as the positive and enduring experience of a Scottish higher education creates hundreds of thousands of lasting friendships for Scotland around the world."
Scottish universities boast several famous alumni, including the recently appointed president of Iran who is a graduate of Glasgow Caledonian University.
The report will be presented to MPs at Westminster amid fears new immigration policies will deter the number of overseas students coming to study in the UK.