The number of international students at colleges and universities in the United States has increased by six percent in the 2012 academic year and has contributed $22.7 billion to the U.S. economy. According to the 2012 Open Doors Report on International Educational Exchange released November 12; this six percent increase of international students has reached a record high of 764,495 exchange students across the 50 states. The report also stated that there has been a 31 percent increase in the number of students studying in colleges and universities in the U.S. then there was a decade ago.

Findings from the Institute of International Education surveys found that many students overseas who are considering studying abroad believe that a U.S. degree makes for a strong investment in their future careers.

According the Associate Director of International Services at UWG Sylvia Shortt, the University of West Georgia currently has 168 foreign exchange students from over 39 different countries. Although UWG has not seen a significant jump in the number of international students in the past three years, each year they have acquired more international students than the previous academic year.

The continued growth in international students across the U.S. has proved to have a positive social and economic impact by the $22.7 billion that it contributed to the economy in the 2012 academic year alone. The Open Doors 2012 reports that more than 70 percent of international students studying in the U.S. receive most of their money from outside sources to attend colleges and universities across the states.

Not only do international students contribute to the economy, but they also contribute to the scientific and technical research going on in the American classroom. International Students bring an international perspective which often times can help prepare many American undergraduates with future global careers.

UWG undergraduate student Tola Ashiru is an international student from Nigeria and plans to graduate in the spring of 2013. He came to UWG in the fall of 2007 to pursue a degree in computer science. “My older brother and sister attended college in the United States, so when I graduated high school I decided my future career would benefit by me attending a university in the states,” said Ashiru.

Upon graduating Ashiru plans to stay in the U.S. as long as there are job opportunities.  “I would like to stay in the states after graduation if I can find a job, but in the case that I don’t I will most likely move to Canada to be with my brother and sister,” said Ashiru.

Despite the impressive numbers of international students across the U.S., they still constitute less than 4 percent of all students enrolled in higher education in the United States, according to the Open Doors report. Roughly 25 percent of international students come to the United States from China. Other nations leading the way in sending students are India with 13 percent and South Korea with nearly 10 percent. And thanks to Saudi Arabian government scholarships, students from Saudi Arabia now make up 4.5 percent of the international students studying in the United States.

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