ANALYSIS: NEO Regional Economic Growth Through Attraction and Retention of International Students

Submitted by Richard Herman on Fri, 11/19/2004 - 02:11.

 

According
to the National Association of International Educators, international students
to NE Ohio colleges and universities contribute over $100,000,000 to the
regional economy per year. Ohio’s nearly
19,000 international students (and their family members) made a net
contribution to the State economy of over $425,000,000 in 2002-2003. Read on to consider related opportunities - entire proposal is attached at the bottom of this posting.

 

<>Regional Economic Growth Through Attraction and
Retention of
International Students to NE
Ohio

<>By:  David
Levey and Richard Herman

INTRODUCTION

According
to the National Association of International Educators, international students
to NE Ohio colleges and universities contribute over $100,000,000 to the
regional economy per year. Ohio’s nearly
19,000 international students (and their family members) made a net
contribution to the State economy of over $425,000,000 in 2002-2003. 

Ohio is a
magnet for international students and educated immigrants. With over 500,000 foreign students in the
U.S., the State of Ohio has the 7th largest foreign student
population in the country. Immigrants
that arrive in Ohio are among the best educated in the nation. Ohio is ranked as the 7th-highest
state in terms of immigrants arriving between 1995 and 2000 who have college
degrees.

Foreign students spend $11
billion a year on tuition and living expenses in the U.S., helping to make
higher education America’s fifth-largest service export (foreign students pay
out-of-state tuition,

and often come bankrolled with living and study funds to
inject into the local economy). U.S.
Commerce Department states that foreign students are directly responsible for
the creation of over 150,000 American jobs.

 

International
students not only inject much-needed funds into local universities and the
region, but they also provide critical innovation, global connectivity, and
entrepreneurial spirit needed for local economic development. Many pay full tuition to obtain an advanced
degree from an American University. On
the whole, they are among the brightest and most driven people in their
respective home countries and/or from the best families. 

In the
knowledge-based economy, brainpower is king. Global competition has less to do with the transfer of goods and
services, than it does with the attraction and development of scientific,
artistic, and entrepreneurial brainpower from all over the world.  

It is
critical that NE Ohio embraces diversity and openness to outsiders. By warmly welcoming internationals to NE Ohio
universities, the region will attract more of the world’s best and brightest
minds, and at the same time, provide the optimal environment for technological
and entrepreneurial innovation. 

Notwithstanding
the 9/11-related visa concerns,[2]
one of the best ways for NE Ohio to boost its international population and
promote economic growth is to attract and retain a greater international student
pool at its colleges and universities. 

Professor
Anna Lee Saxenian, of UCLA and the Public Policy Institute of California, found
that one of the key engines for Silicon Valley’s entrepreneurial growth in the
1980s and 1990s was that the fact that many international students to
California colleges and universities started new companies in the Valley upon
graduation. In her study, â€œSilicon
Valley’s Skilled Immigrants: Generating
Jobs and Wealth for California,� she found that 1/3 of the scientific and
engineering work force in Silicon Valley, and 1/4 of all founders of technology
start-ups, were immigrants, many of whom have advanced degrees from U.S.
universities. 

Recent studies show that
immigrants to the U.S. are much more likely to be entrepreneurs than
native-born Americans. For some
immigrant groups, the entrepreneurship rate is 2 to 3 times greater than the
American-born population.

Researchers
have found that many foreign-born scientists and engineers in Silicon Valley
acted as entrepreneurs and as middlemen who facilitate trade and investment
links with their countries of origin. In
2000, Indian and Chinese entrepreneurs alone headed 29% of Silicon Valley’s
technology businesses. Collectively,
these companies accounted for $19.5 billion in sales and over 77,000 jobs in
Silicon Valley. These entrepreneurs
also act as catalysts for growth among America’s native-born population which
benefit directly and indirectly by the presence of these immigrant/foreign
student populations. 

Cities like Austin, Denver,
Boston, and San Jose have greatly benefited from high levels of immigrant
technology talent. Almost 25% of the
founders or chairman of the biotech companies in the U.S. that went public in the
early 1990s also came from outside the U.S. 

This is
not surprising considering that the Master’s Degrees awarded to foreign
students were high in Computer Science (48%), Physical Science (41%),
Engineering (40%), and Mathematics (35%). A “rising tide raises all boatsâ€? and benefits all programs across the
spectrum of an academic institution and the region in which it is located. 

In the
1920’s, Cleveland was the 2nd or 3rd top city in the
world in generating patents that dramatically changed industry. Cleveland no longer plays a significant
international role in patent generation. Because there is a strong correlation between a region’s patent
production and its economic vitality, and because over 44% of all patents filed
in the U.S. are filed now by internationals, it is critical that Cleveland
attract, develop, and retain international students to help boost its patent
innovation and shape the region’s new economy. 

In an
increasingly global economy, highly skilled and entrepreneurial immigrants
provide the necessary bridge to the talent, business, and capital in their
homeland. The risk-taking factor in the
immigrant community, coupled with scientific accomplishment, internal networks
providing seed capital, and access to inexpensive overseas labor markets,
provide a formidable combination for local economic development.

To compete in an increasingly
interdependent global economy, NE Ohio will need more citizens knowledgeable
about business practices around the world. Much of the future economic growth will take place in large, emerging
markets that are less familiar to Americans, such as China and India. To compete successfully, we will need
executives and entrepreneurs who understand these countries. 

Capturing
a greater pool of international technology talent through increased enrollment
of international student at NE Ohio universities should be a priority of
economic development.[3] Furthermore, cultivating this population upon
arrival in NE Ohio is key, so that we maximize their local entrepreneurial
development, integrate them into the NE Ohio workforce, and make the case that
NE Ohio is a friendly destination for internationals to live and raise their
families 

Rather
than treating international students like gold, NE Ohio largely ignores this
important asset.  

As
economist Richard Florida notes is his book, “Rise of the Creative Class,â€? international diversity has a direct
correlation to a region’s economic growth. Multicultural and tolerant regions with hyper global connectivity will
prosper in the 21st century.

There
are no coordinated efforts in NE Ohio currently pursuing the important
objectives outlined in this paper.

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