THE University of Sunderland raked in £24million from international students coming to study in the city during the past year.
Students from outside the European Union are paying between £9,000 and £11,150 each per year for the opportunity to come and study on Wearside.
Cash generated from international students is becoming increasingly important to universities who are fighting to attract homegrown applicants due to recent hikes in tuition fees.
Parliamentary constituency figures revealed that in Washington and Sunderland West, there was a 20 per cent drop last year in the number of applications.
Other Wearside constituency areas did a little better when it came to the figures.
Sunderland Central saw a drop of 14 per cent, while the number of university applications from people in Houghton and Sunderland South was down by 11 per cent.
The largest contingent of non-EU citizens studying at the university come from China, with 785 students. There are 308 Malaysian students and 213 Nigerians.
Other students come from countries including Pakistan, Vietnam, Canada, India and Thailand.
The minimum cost of an undergraduate fee for non-EU students is £9,000, with the maximum for an MBA qualification £11,150.
When tuition fee rises were announced, the University of Sunderland revealed plans to charge between £7,000 and £8,500 a year from 2012.
With 50 per cent of its students coming from the city, the university was keen to ensure it was working to promote itself on the international scene in the hope of generating income from outside the UK.
A spokesman for the University of Sunderland said: “We have been involved in international higher education for more than 50 years and enjoy a strong reputation across the world, providing high-quality education.
“Part of this is our commitment to ensuring the tuition fees we charge our international students are fair and are competitively priced, as they play a vital role to the cultural diversity and economic growth of the university, city and wider region.”
The highest prices are paid by business students at the University of Oxford – which charges £41,000 for an MBA to both home and international students.
The National Union of Students said it was important international students should not be treated as “cash cows”.
Daniel Stevens, of the NUS, said: “Universities that truly value their international students should be clear about the real cost of their courses allowing them to budget properly and start a course knowing they will be able to afford to finish it.”