According to the Institute of International Education, the number of international students studying in the U.S. has doubled from about 500,000 to over a million in the last decade.
This sharp increase in the number of international students studying in the U.S. has to do with a number of factors, but is this beneficial to U.S. students and the institutions they attend?
Good for U.S. Students
Unless you are well traveled or live in a major metropolitan city, your exposure to other cultures is likely pretty limited. As you exit high school, getting ready to move on to the next major step of life, you’ll soon discover that college can be a great way to learn about other cultures.
I felt that my years in high school exposed me to other cultures and some level of diversity, but attending college opened my eyes. There are different people out there! They look different. They talk different and if you get to know them they have some pretty great experiences to share with you.
Diversity is an important part of your education experience. Most colleges and universities actively seek to create diverse campuses as they recognize the many benefits students receive by learning from and engaging with other students who are different from them.
Good for International Students
Just why are international students looking to the U.S. for an education? There are a few main reasons, but in short, studying in the U.S. opens up career options they may not have in their home countries.
In many countries, students who wish to pursue higher education are forced to take a national exam after they finish the equivalent of our high school. Similar to our SAT or ACT tests, the national tests help rank students based on their scores.
However, unlike our system, schools in other countries focus very much on the results of these tests. If a student performs poorly on their national exam, they will have their career –and higher education options drastically limited.
Because of this, students will either choose to skip their national exams, or if they do poorly they may look to the U.S. to reopen their career options. It’s not surprising then that the majority of international students come from China, India and Saudi Arabia – all who have stringent national exams.
Besides opening up options, international students also want to study in the U.S. for the same reason U.S. students study abroad – exposure to other cultures.
Good for the Economy
Why do colleges go out of their way to court international students? As we stated before, there are many educational benefits to a diverse campus. But there is another reason colleges are excited to welcome international students, and it’s related to money.
International students cannot qualify for financial aid and are most often charged the full tuition price. On top of that, many colleges popular with international students are charging an added fee essentially because they can.
Students who pay full freight allow the college to offer substantial discounts to in-state students or significant financial aid packages to students who need it. Without international students helping to foot that bill many colleges, especially public colleges, would have to limit the discounts they can provide.
International students not only help the institutions they attend, they also help out the local and national economy. The Institute of International Education estimates that international students bring $21 billion to the nation each year.
Because of colleges' reliance on international students to help fund their budgets, the current political climate is somewhat worrisome for international students.
There are over 15,000 international students in the U.S. recently affected by President's Trump travel ban. These students attend nearly 600 different colleges and universities throughout the country and contribute up to $700 million to the colleges they attend.
With travel bans looming will international students continue coming to the U.S. or will they find friendlier countries to go to?
Are you, or do you know an international student searching for the best U.S. education options? Check out College Factual's New Rankings for International Students!