Dubbed as the land of opportunity, the United States of America continues to attract people from all over the world. These folks not only want to visit the U.S. for a vacation or to find work but many also want to pursue higher education in some of the country’s prestigious colleges and universities.
A great number of foreign students truly believe in the quality of higher education provided in the U.S. Statistics show that the number of these foreign students continues to grow as evident in the visa approvals. For example, the period 2001 to 2012 saw F-1 visas in U.S. colleges and universities increasing from 110,000 in the year 2001 to 524,000 in 2012. Most of these foreigners are pursuing bachelor’s and master’s degrees as well as English language training. A huge percentage of them were from China and Saudi Arabia.
The metropolitan areas are the most preferred destination of these foreigners. This is understandable as most higher education institutions are normally located in urban centers. For the period 2008 to 2012, majority or 85 percent of foreign students were enrolled in 118 metro areas. They made up 73 percent of the higher education students in the U.S.
The top tertiary institutions in the U.S. based on American university rankings ç¾Žå›½å¤§å¦æŽ’å with the highest population of international students are Florida Institute of Technology in Florida (33%), The New School in New York (32%), University of Tulsa in Oklahoma (24%), Carnegie Mellon University in Philadelphia (23%) and Boston University in Massachusetts (22%).
Similarly, most foreign students pursuing further studies in the U.S. come from growing cities particularly in the emerging markets. These include Seoul (Korea), Beijing and Shanghai (China), Hyberabad (India) and Riyadh (Saudi Arabia).
Education as Economic Driver
Metropolitan areas benefit greatly from the presence of foreign students. The economic benefits are most significant. In the U.S. alone, international students contributed nearly $37 billion to the country’s economy and supported more than 450,000 jobs during the 2016-2017 academic year based on the NAFSA report. The top five U.S. cities that enjoyed the biggest benefits from students’ spending on living expenses, tuition and fees were California, New York, Massachusetts, Texas and Pennsylvania. As such, it is but fitting for local governments to make an effort in improving their education systems moving forward.
But while these foreigners contribute to the economic growth of their higher education destination, they too have the ability to contribute back to their home cities by providing valuable skills to local employers.
Once they complete their course in the U.S. and decide to work back in their home country, they have every opportunity to practice what they have learned abroad and thereby help in their locality’s economic growth.
A study done by the British Council entitled “The Shape of Things to Come: Higher Education Global Trends and Emerging Opportunities to 2020” noted the significance of emerging economies. Apart from their vital role in world trade, they are fast becoming popular study destinations. The researchers also pointed out the need for continuous investment in education to allow colleges and universities that accommodate foreign students to improve the standard of their teaching and research.
Globally, enrolments in tertiary education reached 170 million in 2009 alone based on data from the UNESCO Insitute for Statistics. On top of the list were China, India, the U.S. and Russia with a 45 percent combined share. Other emerging economies in the list were Brazil, Indonesia, Iran, South Korea and Turkey.
Higher enrollments of foreign students would mean higher revenues for a certain locality. As young people spend their money on accommodation, food, entertainment and other needs in the place where they are enrolled, local governments are bound to earn onwards. Specifically, this is illustrated through the relationship between GDP per capita at purchasing power parity (PPP) and gross tertiary enrollment ratios. This means that as economies grow over the years, there’s a high likelihood that their tertiary enrollment ratios will also increase.
By the year 2020, four countries are predicted to enjoy more than half of the world’s tertiary enrolments. These are China, India, the U.S. and Brazil. Other countries forecast to play a significant role are Indonesia, Turkey and Nigeria.