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The Number of International Students Is Shrinking. Here’s How That’s Affecting the Economy.

February 16, 2021

Original Article: https://www.chronicle.com/article/the-number-of-international-students-is-shrinking-heres-how-thats-affecting-the-economy

The economic fortunes of college towns have long been tightly linked to the students who learn and live there. But with fewer students attending college in the wake of the global pandemic — and with many who are enrolled learning from home — economic activity in some college communities has plummeted.

International students play an especially prominent role in generating economic activity. A fresh reminder of the significance of these students’ spending surfaced last month when data from NAFSA: Association of International Educators revealed that the amount international students contributed to the U.S. economy in 2019-20 fell $1.8 billion from the year before, to $38.7 billion. The 4.4-percent decline was the first drop in the more than two decades that Nafsa has been calculating economic impact data. The number of jobs created or supported by international students fell, too.

Both economic disruptions coincide with a 43-percent decline in new international students this fall — a staggering loss, which has fundamentally affected the colleges and communities that would normally host them. But the slide in the number of new international students has been underway since fall 2016; their attendance over all decreased nearly 2 percent in the fall of 2019.

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