‘Foreign students do indeed bring in billions of dollars, but those billions are outbalanced by hidden billions in … funds spent by educational institutions subsidizing those…’
(Michael Barnes, Liberty Headlines) For years, proponents of foreign-student programs have argued that hosting large foreign-student populations at American educational institutions, often in place of domestic students, provides a huge economic benefit due to student spending.
“The idea that the foreign student population provides an economic boost for the U.S. is a myth,” said David North, a CIS fellow and author of the study, “Foreign Students, Despite Blather to the Contrary, Do Not Help the Economy.”
The analysis shows that while foreign-student programs do lead to billions of dollars in spending, the net cost is many billions more in the red—and it’s not even close.
“Foreign students do indeed bring in billions of dollars, but those billions are outbalanced by hidden billions in U.S. tax, endowment, and other funds spent by educational institutions subsidizing those, and other, students,” he said.
According to the Institute of International Education, a leading advocacy group for such programs, foreign students provide roughly $45 billion a year in economic benefits to the American economy. That figure is upheld as an overwhelming justification to both promote and increase the flow of foreign students to American schools, colleges and universities.
However, when accounting for the associated costs borne by American taxpayers and educational institutions, the economic argument looks far less compelling. According to the study, foreign students consume an estimated $119 billion in U.S. assets when providing only $45 billion in benefits, for a net economic loss of $74 billion every year.
The analysis concedes that there are non-economic reasons for hosting foreign students, but the touted economic windfall simply does not exist. As such, North contends that the programs should be scaled back.
“Given the massive (if hidden) subsidies that foreign students receive while in school, and the even more hidden ones that many of them and their post-degree employers get through the Optional Practical Training (OPT) program, the time has come to cut back on some parts of the foreign student programs,” he concluded.