Losing Talent: An Economic and Foreign Policy Risk America Can't Ignore

Executive Summary

Losing TalentInternational students create jobs, drive research, enrich our classrooms, strengthen national security, and become America’s greatest foreign policy assets. Yet new international student enrollment is down dramatically across the United States.

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  • International students contributed $39 billion to our economy last year.
  • During the 2017-2018 academic year, international students created or supported more than 455,000 jobs. That’s three jobs created for every seven international students who chose to study here.
  • International education is the fifth-largest U.S. service sector export.
  • The most recent U.S. Department of State Open Doors report, published by the Institute of International Education, reported a 6.6% decline in new international student enrollments; this follows a 3.3% decline in new enrollments the prior year and marks the first time America has seen a two-year decline.
  • Data show that international students and scholars feel less safe and less welcome in the United States than the previous year surveyed.
  • University and industry leaders acknowledge that anti-immigrant rhetoric and policies contribute to a chilling effect on international study in the United States.
  • Competitors like Canada, China, and Australia are recruiting and attracting more international students and scholars and benefiting at the expense of the United States.
  • For example, in 2014, China surpassed the United Kingdom and the United States as a top destination for international students from Africa — and it continues to draw increasing numbers of students from the African continent.