Over the years, the intake of foreign students in American colleges and universities has been on the rise and is likely to have a great impact in the U.S. education sector as well as its economy (Lane and Kinser 1). International students in the United States provide revenue and good enrolments for colleges and universities. As noted by Kelly (1), there is a constant increase in the number of international students pursuing higher education in the United States.
Based on a study by the National Center for Education Statistics, foreign students in the United States account for close to 10 percent of enrolments in graduate schools. While some countries have devised policies that help to restrict the inflow of foreign students, the United States, and other socialist nations are more than happy to welcome international students (Chishti 397). As a result, it is assumed that the population of international students in the United States will continue to swell with time.
According to Hudzik and Peter, the number of international students is likely to grow by approximately 150 percent by the year 2025 (1). Unlike domestic students, international students pay their fees in full. Also, international students who are not able to pay fees offer the support needed for grants program available in the United States. There are, however, concerns that the enrolment of internal students is slowly declining (Lane and Kinser 1).
This paper looks at the economic and educational impacts of international students in the United States. First, important facts about international students in the United States are discussed. This is then followed by a discussion of the economic impact of international students in America. This is followed by a look at the educational impact of international students. The paper finally finishes off by providing a summary of the important highlights of the discussion.
Important Facts about International Students in the United States
As has already been explained, there is a possibility that the number of international students flocking into the United States in pursuit of education is bound to increase with time. In the same way, it is presumed that the number of colleges and universities will also increase to match the increasing number of international students. Statistically, it is alleged that there is fierce global competition for international students in different countries, which is likely to increase with time (Hudzik and Briggs 1).
Seemingly, countries compete to attract international students to improve the quality of education. As a result of the competition, the number of international students seeking education in the United States may eventually decline. Countries are using different strategies to appeal to international students. The use of scholarships, for example, is common among different competing countries as a means of encouraging international students.
Through various scholarship programs, many countries have managed to attract international students. Usually, the scholarships are offered through arrangements that are made between competing countries and other countries. The United States faces stiff competition from the United Kingdom and Australia. Arguably, most international students who come to the United States are from China, South Korea, and India (Hudzik and Briggs 2).
A drastic reduction in the number of international students from these three countries may thus cripple the projected growth of the sector. Among other things, colleges and universities in the United States may be compelled to undertake a radical transformation to survive. Sadly, this may include the reduction of job opportunities for Americans.
Several factors are likely to affect the domestic supply of students. The increased cost of education is, for example, responsible for the low enrolment of domestic students. There is also a short supply of domestic students who are qualified to undertake specialized courses. Consequently, colleges and universities have to depend on the enrolment of international students with the right qualifications to pursue such courses.
There are serious concerns about the ability of academic institutions to maintain the right quality of education. While departments may have a strong desire to work with qualified students, the focus of institutions may be on growing profits. This creates a new problem for colleges and universities. Institutions may be forced to pay staff additional income to motivate them to teach international students.
On the other hand, the process of attracting the best students comes at a heavy price. Academic institutions may, for example, be made to offer huge discount rates or scholarships to attract the right caliber of students. Also, students who may be academically weak require the teaching staff to put in more time to help them excel in their studies.
According to Chishti, the increased enrolment of international students in the United States and other developed nations is a serious problem that must be dealt with immediately (397). As a result, some developed countries have taken drastic measures to control the inflow of foreign students. Countries that have taken measures to control the inflow of international students have done it for economic reasons.
Even though economic reasons are not enough to provide a basis for denying entry to international students, they are very critical and must be relied upon. This notwithstanding, others are busy inviting international students to their countries. Ostensibly, the United States is likely to be ahead of the rest as far as the enrolment of international students is concerned. Various colleges and universities in the United States are aggressively involved in the recruitment of international students.
Concerns have been raised about the enrolment of international students from only one country. Among other things, encouraging enrolment from one country denies students an opportunity to interact with others in a multi-cultural environment that allows them to develop an international approach to life. Moreover, enrolling international students from only one country will deny the United States an opportunity to build healthy relations with other countries.
There is thus a need to monitor the enrolment of international students closely and to focus on making sure that a well balanced international group of students exists. In the United States, for example, most international students are from China.
While this is useful for establishing strong ties between the United States and China, it does not permit the United States to work on building great relationships with other nations. Also, heavy reliance on the enrolment of international students from one country can adversely affect the economy of the United States if the number of international students from the said country goes down.
Economic Impact of International Students in the United States
The enrolment of international students can affect the economy of the United States in several ways. It is thus imperative for all stakeholders in the educational sector to understand this impact to devise effective strategies that will lead to success.
First, the ability to attract international students creates a new stream of income not only for colleges and universities but also for the American government. In most cases, the amount of income received is directly proportional to the number of foreign students enrolled. A higher enrolment of foreign students thus generates more additional income for academic institutions.
As a consequence, colleges and universities can employ new staff and give better remuneration to existing staff. This creates employment and increases the amount of revenue that is received by the government. Furthermore, international students need accommodation, food, and other necessities, just like any other person living in the United States. As such, they have to spend for the entire period of their stay in the United States. Eventually, the spending translates to income for individuals with business ventures and the country in general.
In general, an inflow of foreign students is accompanied by a need for goods and services. While academic institutions provide educational services, other services are equally important as explained earlier. Besides studying, international students and their families become part of the wider American society and participate in many other activities for the entire duration of their studies.
In other words, they are expected to live a normal life and require services such as housing, healthcare insurance, transportation, and other important services. As a result, the demand for goods and services goes up, and more people may be needed in both the private and public sector to meet the increased demand.
Employment opportunities are thus created for the American people to meet the increased demand for goods and services. The number of employment opportunities will continue to increase as colleges and universities continue to open doors for international students.
Consequently, there is a possibility of new educational institutions being established to handle the increased demand for educational services. Without a doubt, this creates more employment opportunities for the American people. Subsequently, the creation of jobs reduces the level of unemployment and presumably provides a source of livelihood for many people in the United States.
Also, the government of the United States benefits by taxing its citizens. As the number of employed people increases, this serves as a good source of revenue for the government since it gets an opportunity to tax more people.
In the same way, those in the service and manufacturing industries also get taxed by the government, and this raises the amount of income received by the government. The economy of the United States is further improved by the fact that international students generally pay more in terms of fees than domestic students.
Apart from helping to grow the American economy, international students also help the United States to build healthy relations with foreign nations such as China, South Korea, India, and many others. They also present a diverse study environment in colleges and universities within the United States.
Without a doubt, learning in a diverse environment equips learners with important life skills that can later be used to support diversity at the workplace which can lead to improved performance and subsequent growth of the American the economy. According to Hudzik and Briggs, it pays for the United States to value the diversity that comes with the enrolment of international students from different parts of the world (2).
While colleges and universities get an opportunity to understand and teach about diversity, the United States generally benefits from the skills that students learn through such environments.
Income that is earned by colleges and universities through the enrolment of international students enables them to invest in additional facilities and to offer highly specialized courses that can permit the United States to provide specialized services to its citizens. Income from the enrolment of international students is also used by colleges and universities in the United States to strengthen research activities and improve the level of creativity among individuals.
Drawing from a study by Matloff, international students are generally the best in science and technology disciplines (1). Also, studies also indicate that they make the best engineers and mathematicians. Allegedly, several international students who graduate in these disciplines from colleges and universities in the United States are very talented. As a result, educational institutions in the United States have an opportunity to develop research in these disciplines with the help of international students.
Similarly, the United States can benefit from talented international students by allowing them to work in specific sectors where they can share their skills with colleagues. In the end, the United States gets to benefit from an improved economy. International students who are granted an opportunity to work in the United States also get a chance to earn experience and build their skills as they interact with the local population.
Some researchers have, however, argued that there is a need to conduct thorough research to determine whether these assertions are true (Matloff 1). Ostensibly, the allegation that international students are the best in some areas when compared to domestic students needs to be proved through evidence based research. Lane and Kinser also argued that international graduate students play a very important role in driving the American knowledge economy by supporting the operations of key fields, including science and engineering (1).
Allegedly, a high number of international students graduate in highly specialized areas of the American economy. Many colleges and universities in the United States have received awards and recognition as a result of outstanding performance by international students.
To a large extent, the total cost of educating international students includes educational as well as general expenses. This does not include research and public services. Other costs result from the fact that international students may be exempted from tax payment in some cases. Also, there are other costs associated with the upkeep of international students entitled to maintenance allowances and other critical services that are financed by the United States.
It is thus important for an educational institution to spend enough time to understand all the key requirements of international students. Without proper planning, colleges and universities may not succeed in their mission to motivate existing international students while working out strategies to attract other students.
As pointed out by Throsby (34), the greatest challenge that colleges and universities in the United States must be prepared to deal with is tuition and support services for international students. Stakeholders must thus work hard to see to it that both tuition and support services are given equal consideration. It is wrong to focus on one while neglecting the other.
Educational Impact of International Students in the United States
To a large extent, international students make it possible for colleges and universities to provide an international outlook within the classrooms. As a consequence, teachers are compelled to consider the use of new methods to issue instructions to learners. Teachers must use strategies that accommodate the previous background of international students.
Educators must consider the unique needs of international students by using an instructional approach that is not intimidating. While international students must make adjustments, colleges and universities in the United States should be creative enough to ensure that the need for such changes does subject international students to so much pressure. The transition must be simple and very smooth.
One of the negative educational impacts of international students in the United States has to do with the fact that colleges and universities are forced to spend heavily to effectively meet the needs of international students. Arguably, international students come with unique requirements that obligate educational institutions to be innovative in the way they deliver their services.
As pointed out earlier, teachers tend to demand higher compensation to teach international students. Whereas international students indeed pay more than domestic students, most of the income is spent on paying teachers. International students also tend to encounter numerous challenges, unlike domestic students. As a result, they end up using social services provided by colleges and universities such as health care services quite frequently.
Colleges and universities are thus compelled to spend heavily to support such services. Educational institutions are, however, comforted by the fact that most domestic students use such services less frequently. Therefore, what is not utilized by domestic students may be used to meet the needs of international students.
Even though international students bring in an element of diversity in the American educational system, some challenges must be addressed. Cases of international and domestic students labeling each other negatively are very common. To a large extent, this affects how they interact with one another and may lead to unhealthy consequences.
Undoubtedly, this places a burden on colleges and universities in the United States to formulate strategies that can be used to deal with the stereotype problem. While the stereotype problem mostly affects students, it may also affect teachers to some extent. Educational institutions must, therefore, develop programs that are specifically meant to train staff and students on the benefits of having a diverse environment.
As earlier explained, institutions focus mostly on income generation, whereas teachers are happy to work with talented students. While international students enable colleges and universities to earn additional income that may be used to improve facilities and promote research activities, departmental heads are concerned that some international students may not meet the required standard.
Therefore, institutions are thinking about how to make more money, while departments are concerned that the quality of education in colleges and universities in the United States may eventually decline as a result of increased international enrolments.
There is thus a need for stakeholders in the American education sector to have an effective strategy of ensuring that educational institutions do not increase their income at the expense of the quality of education offered. Institutional heads and teachers must work very closely. Lack of careful consideration will lead to serious consequences.
Although some people may look at a high enrolment of international students as an indication that an educational institution is doing well, a college or university needs to determine whether it is prepared to cater for the needs of international students effectively. Arguably, recruiting international students is easier than meeting their needs once they are enrolled.
The United States needs to pay close attention to other important matters, including how international students learn and live while in the United States. Inability to effectively meet the needs of international students can easily taint the global image of an educational institution, and students may be forced to move to other places.
In spite of all the challenges highlighted above, colleges and universities must enroll international students to educate domestic students on how to be global citizens. Internationalization will also enable colleges and universities in the United States to bring their students to a level where they can effectively compete with their peers from other nations.
Also, American students will learn how to provide services to both the local and international community. Undoubtedly, this is what characterizes great colleges and universities across the world. As has been explained elsewhere, the United States has realized that international students are very instrumental in the advancement of research activities.
Many colleges and universities in America depend on international students to carry out research and provide services as teaching assistants in specialized areas such as science, engineering, technology, and mathematics. By involving international students in this way, colleges and universities get an opportunity to raise the standards of domestic students.
By and large, international students have positively impacted the United States. As has been explained in this paper, the enrolment of international students comes with both benefits and challenges. When they come to the United States, for example, most international students are accompanied by their families. They thus become part and parcel of the citizens of the United States and require services such as accommodation, healthcare, and transport.
Undoubtedly, an increase in the enrolment of international students leads to a new demand for goods and services. Consequently, the economy of the United States is made to grow. New jobs are created in the process since service providers are expected to cater to the needs of an increased population. While the United States gets to benefit from increased economic activities, colleges and universities also get an opportunity to earn additional income.
There are, however, noticeable negative impacts that are associated with the enrolment of international students. For colleges and universities, more has to be spent to provide social services. This is because international students often face more problems than domestic students that cause them to require frequent access to health care services. There are also concerns among educators that the continued enrolment of international students may eventually water down the quality of education in American colleges and universities.
Chishti, S. “Economic Costs and Benefits of Educating Foreign Students in the United States.” Research in Higher Education 21.4 (1984): 397–414. Print.
Hudzik, J. and Peter B. 2012, Trends and Institutional Implications for International Student Enrollments in U.S. Institutions. Web.
Kelly, S. 2012, Economic Impact of International Students Attending an Institution of Higher Education in the United States. Web.
Lane, J. and Kevin K. The US Relies Heavily on Foreign Students to Support STEM Fields and the Knowledge Economy: Could the Foreign Talent Bubble Burst?” 2013. Web.
Matloff, N. Are Foreign Students the ‘Best and Brightest’?: Data and Implications for Immigration Policy. 2013. Web.
Throsby, D. Financing and Effects of Internationalization in Higher Education: The Economic Costs and Benefits of International Student Flows. Web.