The number of jobs created or supported by international students took an even steeper dip, of 9 percent.
International education is big business, but in the United States, unlike places like Australia, we don’t talk about it that way. Part of it may be reticence on the part of higher ed itself, which often emphasizes the educational and cultural value students from abroad bring to campus. This is true, but it shouldn’t diminish the reality that international students are an economic force.
In local communities, they support stores and shops, car dealerships and karaoke bars
. When colleges shifted earlier this year to virtual learning and campuses cleared out, the takeout orders of international students, unable to leave because of the coronavirus, kept some college-town restaurants afloat.
In nine states, international students have an economic impact of $1 billion or more, NAFSA found. They help spin-off more than 415,000 jobs. As an export, American education is on par with automobiles and pharmaceuticals.
What happens with international students matters not just to colleges but to entire communities. Their impact — and their absence — ripples out.
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Meanwhile, pandemic or not, colleges have to move forward to recruit their new class of students. For international recruitment, that means big, and perhaps lasting, changes.
Admissions officers are targeting their messages to international applicants, applying high-touch strategies, and hosting virtual events around the clock to accommodate different time zones. “Getting up at 2 a.m., it’s jet lag of a different kind,” Jeff Allen, vice president for admissions and financial aid at Macalester College told me. Read the full story.
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