Attracting fewer international students, New Mexico loses out on big money

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Tuesday, November 15, 2011 at 10:57 pm | More from The New Mexico Independent

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“The Open Doors 2011″ report released by the Institute of International Education (IIE) notes New Mexico colleges and universities have enrolled fewer international students this year than last, amounting to a 6 percent drop off.

The findings of the report determined New Mexico State University led all state higher education institutions in lower enrollment among international students, driving the overall state count down.

According to The Association of International Educators, International students are a boon to the U.S. economy — a self-described “conservative” estimate points to $20 billion in additional economic activity as a result of foreign students studying in the U.S.

New Mexico’s intake of that spending pie is roughly $55 million from a mix of tuition, fees, and living expenses for 2010-2011.

While targeting international students expands the diversity of a campus, it also brings in more money for the colleges. Unlike in-state residents, international students pay full tuition. At NMSU the two categories pay $2,913.60 and $9,134.40, respectively.

International students are so lucrative that many universities pay international student recruiters a commission-based salary to attract more full-paying pupils. That practice is not permitted for U.S.-based students.

Nationally, enrollment among international students was up by 5 percent to 723,277. New Mexico was the destination for 2,724 of those pupils.

“It is positive news that our higher education institutions continue to excel in attracting students from all over the world, and in preparing American students to succeed in an increasingly global environment,” said Allan Goodman, President and CEO of the Institute of International Education, in a statement .  “Educational exchange in both directions furthers business and cultural ties between the United States and other countries.”

The IIE report also notes China was the leading sending country of U.S. bound foreign students, totaling 158,000. Another Asian country, India, came in second with 104,000.

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