On November 20, 2023, the U.S. Department of State, in collaboration with the Institute of International Education, released the Open Doors Report. The Open Doors report confirms that, in the 2022-23 academic year, the U.S. was once again the top destination for international study, with more than 1.0 million international students enrolled at U.S. colleges and universities. The Open Doors report provides a number of interesting insights regarding America’s leadership in international education and the contributions of international students to the U.S.
For many decades, America’s institutions of higher education have welcomed students from other countries. It has long been recognized that bringing international students to the U.S. helps to forge international alliances in science, technology, industry, business, academia and the arts, help to establish friendly political relationships with foreign countries and bring talent, innovation and ideas to the U.S. Not to be overlooked is the huge financial impact of international scholars in the U.S. who, in 2022-23, brought a reported $38.0 billion to the U.S. economy in 2022.
Taking a closer look at the data, the IEE reports that international students accounted for 5.6% of all students enrolled in institutions of higher education in the U.S. Of that number, more than 50% hail from the world’s two most populous countries – China and India. Rounding out the top ten sending countries are South Korea (43K), Canada (27K), then Vietnam, Taiwan, Nigeria, Japan, Brazil and Saudi Arabia.
And, as many employers are aware, most international students are pursuing high-value degrees in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, the STEM fields. In fact, in many of America’s most crucial areas of science and technology, international students are taking the lead, pursuing new discoveries in challenging fields which serve America’s national interests.
More locally, the report lists Pennsylvania, with its many top tier colleges and universities, as number 6 in the country for international students, with the University of Pennsylvania, Carnegie Mellon and Penn State University all list among the Top Twenty Host Institutions. And those 46,000 international students enrolled in Pennsylvania schools add an estimated $2.05 billion to the state’s economy.
These international students are an asset and a resource which can help U.S. companies to compete, add jobs and grow. Many of them graduate with high-demand degrees and find offers of employment with U.S. companies. By availing themselves of Curricular Practical Training and Optional Practical Training, international students can gain valuable hands-on experience that contributes to their value in the workplace.
It is well known that many of the founders and top executives of U.S.-based tech giants started as international students in the U.S. It is also well known that a disproportionate number of U.S. Nobel Prize winners are foreign-born. America is a leader in international education. The Biden Administration has taken a positive step by announcing measures intended to help individuals working in critical and emerging technologies to remain in the U.S. The Administration now needs to work with Congress to enact legislation that will help international students in high demand fields with offers of employment from U.S. workers to remain in the U.S.
For additional information on opportunities for international students, click the International Student Spotlight here.
For questions and answers on how international students can transition from campus to the workplace, contact us.