The past week has been extremely stressful for international students enrolled in American universities. Responding to the needs for social distancing during the ongoing pandemic, most colleges and universities were offering students the chance to complete courses online instead of traditional in-person classes.
However, the US government passed an order that threatened the validity of their student visas if they opted for these online classes. Thankfully, the order has been taken back and students are free to continue their courses as best suited to them and the university.
One of the core reasons why American educational institutions protested against the initial order was the fear that it would make the USA lose its appeal for international students.
While they gain an education, they make a sizeable contribution to the US economy. Thus, if they were to go elsewhere, the economy would suffer.
International Students Impact On The US Economy – Student Demographics
In the year 2018-19, over 250,000 student visas were issued by the USA immigration authority. While the number may seem large, it was much lower than the number of students who came to the USA in 2015-16.
In fact, studies show that this number has been declining steadily as a result of changing government policies, rising visa denial rates, difficulty securing jobs after graduation, etc.
It is interesting to note though, that they still account for 5.5% of the entire higher education student population in the USA.
International Students By Year And Country
|Year Of Enrollment||Number Of Students|
|Students By Country|
International Students And The US Economy
- In 2018, foreign students contributed $44.7 billion to the economy
- The state of California benefited the most ($6.8 billion) as it hosts maximum international students.
- Through the school year 2018-19, education exports contributed $41Billion to the US economy.
This is comparable to the export value of many other sectors including the pharmaceutical industry and telecommunications equipment.
US States With The Highest Number Of International Students
International Students Do Add Billion To The Economy
The most direct effect international students have on the US economy is through the tuition fees paid by them. Most universities charge international students a higher tuition fee to enable them to charge US citizen’s subsidized tuition.
Secondly, when students come to the USA, they don’t only pay tuition fees, they also have living expenses. They spend a considerable amount of accommodation, food, transport, stationery, etc. In addition, they help generate employment.
In 2018/19, international students helped create 458,290 direct and indirect jobs.
Their contribution does not stop here. On graduating, many go on to set up and lead successful businesses that employ American citizens. Satya Nadella, the CEO of Microsoft and Elon Musk, the founder of Paypal, Tesla and SpaceX were both once foreign students in the USA.
40% of the American Nobel Prizes in medicine, chemistry and physics since 2000 have been won by immigrants. The students who do not choose to stay in the USA after graduating go on to spread an appreciation for US policies and thus bolster the country’s image.
Thus, it isn’t just international students that stand to benefit from educational opportunities in the USA. The country needs to continue encouraging foreign students to enroll in its schools and universities for its economic growth.
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