Seven Important Facts about International Education


January 2017

As a new Congress arrives in the nation's capital and confirmation hearings for appointees to head federal agencies begin, NAFSA has published a list of important facts that every leader should know about international education to remind them of the importance of the work our members do every day. The newly published NAFSA list was created to educate and remind cabinet-appointees that international education is a vital asset to the United States' academic and scientific innovation, economic vitality, future security, and global leadership.

Seven Things You Need to Know about International Education


1. Despite the highly contentious election season, according to a new public opinion poll, a large, bipartisan majority - 90 percent of voters - agree that "our nation needs an education system that produces educators, business leaders, and diplomats who understand other cultures and languages."

2. Generations of foreign policy leaders have viewed international students as one of American's greatest foreign policy assets.

3. Eighty-three (83%) percent of Americans agree that our nation is better off when more of our students are internationally educated and understand other cultures and languages.

4. International education is an often underutilized means by which the United States can refine our foreign policy, improve our national security, strengthen our economy and promote mutual understanding and cooperation among nations. Unfortunately, less than 2 percent of American college graduates are able to study abroad, and of those that do, nontraditional students, students of color, and those with limited financial means are disproportionately denied opportunities that would prepare them to participate and compete in a global marketplace. Our government and higher education must work together to eliminate the international education divide that disadvantages huge swaths of citizens by shutting them out of vitally important learning.

5. In addition to myriad foreign policy and academic contributions international students make to American communities, NAFSA's latest analysis finds that international students studying at U.S. colleges and universities contributed $32.8 billion and supported more than 400,800 jobs to the U.S. economy during the 2015-2016 academic year. NAFSA's analysis also includes state-by-state and congressional district-level data.

6. Current U.S. immigration policies dissuade students from around the world from studying in the United States, at time when we face increasing global competition for talent and students have more choices than ever about where to pursue their education. The United States needs comprehensive immigration reform that allows individuals freedom of movement and reflects our values as a nation.

7. Cuba remains the only country that the U.S. government prevents Americans from visiting.