1.5 Million, $49 Billion And Counting: The Surge Of International Students Generates Exponential Impact On U.S. And Canadian Economies

    Updated on: 07 Nov 2023 5 min read

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    Several Global Forces are Driving this Surge

    The fundamental forces behind international student growth point to continued increases for many years to come. The Open Doors 2016 presentationsuggests that the top factor driving the increase is the population growth in other countries. There are 1.2 billion people in the world between the ages of 20 and 30. Compare that to the 24 million college students in the U.S. and Canada, and it’s easy to see why even a minor fraction of this huge pool of candidates attending university in the U.S. or Canada could have a major impact. In addition to population factors, the challenges students sometimes face when trying to get into the limited and competitive seats in universities in their home countries has also driven international students to seek a top education overseas.

    Finally, though a world-class education is invaluable, it also pays-off for the students themselves … big time. An analysis at my company, MPOWER Financing, which finances high-promise international students at top universities in the U.S., suggests that the median annual income for student applicants from India (MPOWER’s largest market) prior to coming to the U.S. for a master’s degree is under $20,000. Their salary after obtaining a U.S. degree ranges from two to seven times this amount, depending on whether the students return home or stay in the U.S. to work, as well as which company and position they end up in.

    A Strong Trend that Should be Embraced

    We’re witnessing a remarkable impact that international students coming to the U.S. and Canada are having on our respective countries. Given international students’ economic value both during and after their academic programs, this is a trend that we should all be embracing and encouraging to continue.

    But, we’re seeing very different political attitudes about these students in the U.S. from those in Canada. Canada has made attracting and retaining top global talent a federal priority through a proactive outreach strategy and its express entry permanent residency program for skilled immigrants. The U.S., by contrast, has yet to increase the number of available H1B visas to a level adequate with high-skilled demand, has postponed the startup visa program and still lacks a timely path to residency for international talent. Several leading media outlets, from the New York Times to The Economist have argued that these differences, combined with generally lower tuition costs in Canada, have contributed to a sharper increase in the number of international students in Canada compared to the U.S.

    To take full advantage of the continuing growth in international students and their economic benefit on their host countries, the U.S. would do well to adopt some of the best practices from its northern neighbor and encourage the growth of this enormous pool of talent.

Written by Emmanuel Manu Smadja

Emmanuel “Manu” Smadja is the co-founder and CEO of MPOWER Financing, a fast-growing FinTech startup that provides educational loans to high-promise international students at top universities in North America. Manu was an international student himself and is a firm believer that credit should be borderless and should consider people’s future earning potential.

Photo aman jain
Reviewed by Aman Jain

Aman Jain graduated from IIT Kanpur, and currently functions as the CMO at GyanDhan. He is deeply passionate about creating equality in higher education and has directly interacted with 2 Lakh students in his 8-year-long journey.

Specializes in:
Education loan , Study Abroad Admissions

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