International students add US$30.5bn to US economy

19 November, 2015

International students in the USA contributed US$30.5 billion to the economy in the 2014/15 academic year and supported more than 373,000 jobs, according to research released by Nafsa: Association of International Educators.

Economic contribution of international students in the USA in 2014/15. Source - Nafsa: Association of International Educators

The US$30.5 billion total represented a 14 per cent increase in dollar value to the economy compared with the previous academic year, while job support and creation rose by nine per cent, Nafsa said.

The value to the local economy has more than doubled in the last ten years; the contribution was estimated at US$13.3 billion in 2004/05.

The research is based on the recently released Open Doors 2015 report on international student enrolment from the Institute of International Education, which showed the largest annual rate of increase for 35 years in 2014/15, leading to a new all-time high of 974,926 overseas students.   

The analysis, conducted for Nafsa by Jason Baumgartner of Indiana University’s Office of International Services, showed that for every seven international students, three local jobs are created or supported.

The contribution to the economy is constituted by spending on: higher education tuition fees, accommodation, dining, retail, transportation, telecommunications and health insurance.

“Despite the fact that international students only comprise less than five per cent of enrolment in US colleges and universities, they continue to bring billions of dollars to our nation’s economy and hundreds of thousands of jobs for the American people,” said Nafsa Executive Director and CEO, Marlene M. Johnson.

“We are pleased that Nafsa’s analysis provides free access to both state and congressional district data to present a more comprehensive picture of how international students and scholars contribute to our local communities.”

California had the highest state contribution from international students at US$4.6 billion, followed by New York (US$3.7bn) and Massachusetts (US$2.2bn).

Nafsa used the release of the data to lobby for immigration policy reform to increase the country’s ability to recruit and retain international students, and highlighted that the USA’s share of globally mobile international students is declining, according to OECD data.

“Congress must pass common-sense, comprehensive immigration reform in order to improve the face we show to the world, build more meaningful relationships with future generations of foreign leaders, and not lose out on the economic, academic and cultural connections from international students,” said Marlene.

Matthew Knott
News Editor


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