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Reports: International Students Contribute to Wyoming Economy

November 16, 2018
woman modeling international clothing
UW graduate student Dilnoza Khasilova, of Uzbekistan, takes part in the university’s annual UW international student fashion and talent show. (UW Photo)

International students enrolled at the University of Wyoming and the state’s community colleges contributed an estimated $25.8 million to Wyoming’s economy during the past year, according to new national reports.

The reports from the Institute of International Education (IIE) and NAFSA, the Association of International Educators, show 1,105 international students studying or gaining practical experience in Wyoming, supporting 224 jobs.

“The economic contributions of international students are in addition to the immeasurable academic and cultural value these students bring to our campuses and local communities,” IIE says.

Some 904 international students and scholars attended UW, contributing an estimated $21.4 million to the state’s economy and supporting 203 jobs, according to the report. Next was Northwest College in Powell, with 67 international students contributing $1.5 million to the state economy and supporting seven jobs. The state’s other community colleges also enrolled international students.

UW’s strategic plan, “Breaking Through: 2017-2022,” calls for the university to increase its enrollment of international students to 1,050 by 2022. That’s part of the strategy to boost UW’s overall enrollment to 13,500 from 12,450 this fall.

“While welcoming international students here at UW certainly has economic value, the presence of the world’s best and brightest students here in Wyoming enriches our community by bringing new perspectives and experiences that add immeasurable value to us all,” says Tony Ogden, UW’s new associate vice provost for global engagement.

NAFSA conducts an annual state-by-state and congressional district analysis of the economic contributions of international students and their families to the U.S. economy. The latest analysis finds that the total number of international students in the U.S. increased by 1.5 percent to 1.094 million in 2017-18, while the number of first-time international students decreased by 6.6 percent. The total economic contribution of international students was $39 billion, supporting 455,622 jobs.

By comparison, the number of international students in Wyoming decreased by 4.3 percent from the year before.

“The number of international students choosing to study in Wyoming has been decreasing for some time,” Ogden says. “We are taking some major steps here at UW to boost our international student outreach.”

Meanwhile, the number of Wyoming and U.S. students studying abroad continues to increase. Some 470 UW students participated in education abroad in the past academic year, up from 395 the year before, a 16 percent increase. Nationally, the number of students studying abroad grew by 2.3 percent in 2016-17, the latest reporting year, to 332,727.

National figures show that 11 percent of all undergraduates study abroad during their degree programs, and nearly 65 percent participate in short-term programs. UW’s strategic plan calls for the university to have 600 students involved in education abroad by 2022.

“It is essential that we graduate students who have experience in the world and understand the international dimensions of their chosen disciplines,” Ogden says. “This will support their future study, career readiness and engagement as global citizens.”

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