Home News Economics International Students in the United States: The Economic and Intellectual Benefits

International Students in the United States: The Economic and Intellectual Benefits


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In 2017, the United States was host to around 1.1 million foreigners who chose to broaden their horizons and deepen their educational experience on American soil. This number is already 24 percent of all foreign students all over the globe. The next two destinations are the United Kingdom and China, getting 11 and 10 percent of the pie respectively. The difference between the US and the country that comes second is just too great.

Foreign students are attracted to the United States because of its welcoming culture and relative tolerance or even acceptance of a diverse workforce. Simply put, international students can have better hopes of getting jobs at the end of their formal university or college training when they are in the US.

But does the United States really get something of benefit to the American way of life from international students? The data seem to suggest so. In fact, they paint a very good picture.

International students contribute billions of dollars to the US economy
People who think that international students are just leeching off the US educational system are severely mistaken. According to data collected and analyzed by the National Association of Foreign Student Advisers (NAFSA): Association of International Educators, about $39 billion dollars have been contributed by foreign students to the American economy in 2017.

A large chunk of that amount of money, of course, comes from tuition paid by the students. Data show that their tuitions are paid for by funds that come from sources external to the US: the students’ families, their own funds, and scholarships from their local universities and colleges.

Besides tuition, a significant portion of the $39 billion also comes from accommodations such as dormitories and off campusoff campus housing. Students, of course, need a place to live for the duration of their stay in the United States. Lease contracts that they enter into usually last from a few months to several years, depending on the degree or college certification that they are pursuing.

In addition to this, the presence of foreign learners supported nearly half a million jobs.

Given those data, some sectors and even state governments themselves are starting to look at international education as a means to prop up the local economy. New Mexico is an example of such states.

International students bring new insights and perspectives

Besides money, among the greatest benefits that the United States gets from welcoming foreign students are the new perspectives and insights that these students bring. Such new viewpoints are valuable because they are simply the key to innovation, something that the United States badly needs to stay relevant in a very dynamic global market.

Of course, this does not mean that local students are incapable of innovation. They are. But the stimulation that is brought about by new viewpoints, especially those that challenge conventional thought, just gives birth to more practical solutions and outcomes.

Given all those, it is safe to say that the United States will continue to open its doors to foreigners who want to study under the American educational system. The value that they bring is just too great to ignore and let pass, especially if it’s just for petty reasons such as all-American pride.