Keep our doors open for international students

Keep our doors open for international students

In 2017 international students contributed $42.4 billion to the U.S. economy.

As thousands of students return for a start of a new semester across Massachusetts, there’s promising new data showing that the United States is once again among the most desirable countries for international students seeking a college or university degree, and that those students are having a dramatic impact on the U.S. economy. For the benefit of our students and our economic future, we need to do our part to keep it that way.

According to the 2018 Open Doors Report released recently by the Institute of International Education (IIE), the number of international students enrolled in higher education programs in the United States reached a new high during the 2017-2018 school year. A record 1.09 million students from across the globe pursued degrees from institutions across the U.S. More than 68,000 of those students studied at schools right here in Massachusetts.

But despite this record level for overall enrollment, the number of new international students in the U.S. continues to decline. After peaking in the fall of 2015, the last two academic years have witnessed a 9.6 percent drop in new international enrollees. This should serve as a warning sign for all of us who recognize the positive influence and economic benefits that a globally diverse student body has on our campuses and communities. We shouldn’t be taking anything for granted.

Just like in business, a campus is strengthened when students gain exposure to a wide array of perspectives that inspire innovative, global approaches to problem-solving.

When students have the opportunity to collaborate with classmates from different countries and backgrounds on schoolwork, research, and hands on field projects, they are better-positioned to enter the workforce prepared to compete and connect in a global economy.

According to the same IIE report, international students studying in the United States contributed $42.4 billion to the U.S. economy in 2017. In Massachusetts, the international students that enrolled in programs in the 2017-2018 academic year poured more than $3 billion into the commonwealth’s economy. And according to theAssociation of International Educators, they also supported nearly 39,000 jobs in the Bay State’s workforce.

If we want to continue to graduate career-ready students while reaping the economic benefits of one of our country’s biggest exports, we need to double down on our support for international education.

At a time when national rhetoric might lead you to believe that our country is less than welcoming to international students, it is up to us as leaders in the education community and as advocates for our students to ensure that the U.S. and Massachusetts continue be an attractive home for students from across the globe.

By: Boston Business Journal

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