Analysis by NAFSA has found the economic impact of international students increased by nearly $6.3 billion (approximately 19%) compared to the previous academic year.
Open Doors data, released on Monday, shows international student numbers in the US have almost returned to pre-pandemic levels, with over one million enrolled in programs at America’s colleges and universities.
The economic impact of these students also remained just below the pre-pandemic high in 2018, when they contributed approximately $374 million more.
“We do not make it easy for international students to bring their talents here”
Fanta Aw, NAFSA’s executive director and CEO, said it was “heartening” to see growth for the second year in a row, describing the contributions of international students as “impressive”.
“Yet we do not make it easy for international students to bring their talents here,” she added. “We must do more by advancing a national strategy for international education.”
A group of American education organisations, including NAFSA, World Education Services, the Institute of International Education and Shorelight, have formed the US For Success coalition which will advocate for a national strategy and better support for international students.
NAFSA also found that one US job is created or supported for every three international students in the country. Non-US students supported over 368,000 jobs in total in 2022/23, compared to 335,000 the previous year.
California, New York, Massachusetts, Texas and Illinois saw the largest amount of economic activity and international students contributed over $1 billion to nine separate states.
Contributions by international students at community colleges also rebounded to the figure of $1.5 billion (up 16%).
“International students are essential to the exchange of ideas and intercultural understanding on our campuses, in our communities, and in our workplaces,” said Aw.
“They are at the heart of so many technological advances, research innovations, and successful start-up companies in this country.”