By Huang Chao, Gao Lu, Xia Lin
NEW YORK, Jan. 21 (Xinhua) -- A graduate at University of Southern California (USC), Roberto Romero from Santa Cruz, Bolivia, clearly sees his contribution to the diversity of the U.S. higher education, let alone the financial benefits derived from the plethora of international students at its universities and colleges.
"A diverse student population is good for any economy. You have different perspectives. You understand the whole world consumers," said Roberto, who has lived in four continents, speaks five languages and now pursues his communication degree in California. This is the U.S. state most concentrated and diversified in foreign learners.
FOREIGN STUDENTS CREATE DIVERSITY
The annual Open Doors Data released in November by the Institute of International Education of the United States (IIE) showed that 1.08 million foreign students were studying at U.S. higher education organizations in the academic year of 2016/17, a number on rise for 11 years in row.
"We definitely bring cultural diversity here to the college which makes America an inclusive country, and that can really go to the development of the whole country," Fan Yilan, a Chinese student at the University of Texas (UT) at Austin, told Xinhua.
The current figure from IIE was a hike of 3.4 percent compared with the previous year, though the weakest growth in the past seven years and much slimmer than the 7 to 10 percent annual increase during the peak times.
Joyce Wang, a Chinese student at USC, told Xinhua that the diversity in U.S. higher education is beneficial in dual ways.
"I've learned a lot about all different cultures in the U.S., because I got the chance to meet different people like Americans or Europeans, even other Asians," said Joyce, whose university used to accommodate the largest body of international students among its ranks. Meanwhile, California is the largest host state for international students in the United States.
"International students benefit U.S. communities, colleges and universities, in many ways. Their diverse perspectives help enrich classroom learning for U.S. students." said the IIE report.
"We need to develop the talent and skills necessary for the 21st century careers. It is in our national interest to build and grow the international relationships and networks that are key to addressing the global challenges and opportunities we face going forward," it added.
BILLIONS PAID ANNUALLY
In 2016, international students brought 39 billion U.S. dollars to the United States economy, through their spending on tuition, boarding and living expenses, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce.
Among the total, 12.25 billion U.S. dollars were paid by Chinese students.
"A California resident only needs to pay a little bit more than 10,000 U.S. dollars per year to study at USC, but an international student needs to pay more than 55,000 U.S. dollars per year," Joyce Wang told Xinhua.
The New York Times recently reported that "for years, American colleges had been staking their futures on continued growth in foreign students, and after the recession a decade ago, those students were a lifeline for colleges that had poured money into new buildings and amenities."
A RELIABLE FORCE FOR MAJOR INDUSTRIES
In addition, major industries have grown largely with the support of International students who are employed in the U.S. after graduation.
"The stream of very talented graduates from good universities grow across the industries. Certainly, tech start-ups in whichever field benefit from having access to those who have strong skills, whether it's in engineering, communication or business," Ben Lee, Associate Director of Master of Communication Management Program at USC, told Xinhua.
Roberto on his part thought higher education in the United States is world-oriented.
"In California, we have Hollywood and Silicon Valley. That's basically where the whole world is consuming. I think that's a great advantage of studying and working here in the United States, like having this influence on the whole world," he added.
U.S. higher education features top quality and inclusiveness, which is why it gets millions of foreign students to its campus and in result generates billion of dollars for its economy.
The top host states were California, New York, Texas, Massachusetts, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Florida, Ohio, Michigan and Indiana, it added.
"You have to have the perspectives of different people from different countries in order to reach to them successfully as well," said Roberto.
Drawing talents from the world while benefiting the world with the talents it educates at expense - such a cycle works for years, making America a dream land that learners of other countries love and pursue undergraduate and graduate degrees at cost.
"If you have money and you want great education, you can come," Roberto quipped in an earthy way.