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International students contribute $37bn to US – NAFSA

International students studying at US higher education institutions contributed $36.9 billion to the US economy and supported 450,000 + jobs during the 2016-2017 academic year, according to the latest NAFSA report.

International students studying at US higher education institutes contributed $36.9 billion to the US economy during the 2016-2017 academic year.

"We must continue to build bridges—not walls—and instill in every potential international student that all are welcome and valued here"

This marks a 12.4% increase in job support and creation and a 12.5% increase in dollars contributed to the economy from the previous academic year.

The report also revealed 10 states broke the $1 billion mark in contributions from international students.

California, New York, Massachusetts, Texas and Pennsylvania saw the largest benefits from spending by these students on living expenses, tuition and fees.

The report also showed that three US jobs are created or supported for every seven international students enrolled in HEIs as a result of spending in higher education, accommodation, dining, retail, transportation, telecommunications and health insurance.

Three US jobs are created or supported for every seven international students enrolled

This study shows the economic benefits of international students continue to increase annually.

However while the number of internationally mobile students has doubled over the past 15 years, the number of new international students enrolled at a US institution for the first time in autumn 2016 declined by nearly 10,000 students to 291,000 – a 3% decrease from the previous year.

Additionally, the growth rate of students choosing to study in the US decreased by nearly half from last year.

The economic contributions of international students are in addition to the immeasurable academic and cultural value these students bring to our campuses and local communities.

NAFSA executive director and CEO Esther Brimmer said proactive policies need to be put in place to ensure the US remains competitive in the race for prospective international students.

“Once again, the data show international students are an asset not only to their respective universities but also to communities and regions across the nation,” said Brimmer.

Last month, Brimmer described the Trump administration’s decision to withdraw the US from membership of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation as “shortsighted” and a “waste of opportunities for international education”.

“Given all the benefits that international students bring, we now face increasing global competition for this talent.  It is in our best interest to strengthen policies that reflect our nation’s founding ideals of inclusivity and opportunity,” she added.

 “International students are an asset not only to their respective universities but also to communities and regions across the nation”

“We must continue to build bridges—not walls—and instill in every potential international student that all are welcome and valued here.”

IIE has also released its latest Open Doors data on international student exchange. However it valued their contribution to the industry at the higher figure of $39 billion.

Spokesperson for IIE Sharon Witherell told The PIE News that the discrepancy is due to both using varying methods of calculating the value of international students to the economy.

“It depends on what exactly is counted in the equation for what [international students] spend while they are in the US,” she said. 

“The US Department of Commerce use our total number of students to calculate the figure for the whole country, while NAFSA use our Open Doors breakdowns by institution, and calculate on a state and local basis the average tuition and cost of living in that state.” 

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