UMass Amherst’s International Students Provide Major Economic Boost to Region

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AMHERST, Mass. – The University of Massachusetts Amherst hosts 3,666 international students from 115 countries who contribute $127.9 million per year to the regional economy and support 1,863 jobs, according to a new report from NAFSA: Association of International Educators, covering the 2017-18 academic year. UMass Amherst is ranked fifth in the state for schools with international students that have a positive impact on the economy.

UMass Amherst is improving international recruitment while at the same time increasing opportunities for Massachusetts residents. Enrollment of students from Massachusetts has grown from 15,953 in 2009 to 16,798 in 2018. The university remains committed to having in-state students account for about three-quarters of the undergraduate student body. Among New England flagship campuses, UMass Amherst has the highest in-state enrollment rate and it compares well to other top public options.    

Overall, Massachusetts receives a $3-billion contribution from more than 68,000 international students and that supports nearly 39,000 jobs statewide, the Open Doors 2018 report says. Massachusetts has the third highest economic benefit in the country from international students, behind California and New York.

Closer to home, within the state’s 2nd Congressional district, which includes Worcester, Amherst, Northampton and Greenfield, UMass Amherst has the highest economic and jobs impact of the top five schools. They include Worcester Polytechnic Institute, Clark University, Smith College and Amherst College.

The report says the national impact of international students is $39 billion that generates 455,622 jobs. Estimates from the group are that for every seven international students enrolled, three U.S. jobs are created and supported by spending in the higher education, accommodation, dining, retail, transportation, telecommunications and health insurance sectors.

Kalpen Trivedi, associate provost of international programs, says international students help the university in several ways, both for those who come to study at UMass Amherst and those who travel abroad from here. “There is a need to graduate students who are part of the global community,” he says. “International exposure and experiences enable us to graduate more successful and sophisticated students.”

Trivedi says UMass Amherst worked to increase the number of international students it enrolls, especially undergraduates. He says staff working with Jim Roche, vice provost for enrollment management, has increased the number of undergraduate international students through a focused recruiting program that has boosted the numbers in recent years.

“Our small team of international recruiters has done a terrific job of attracting students from throughout the globe,” says Roche. “The best part is that this is a self-perpetuating process. The more international students who come to UMass Amherst and have a terrific experience, the more far-reaching our alumni base becomes and the easier it is for us to attract other high-quality students.”

University officials also say that economic impact has increased in recent years because of growth in the number of international students enrolled. They report that 2,101 international students were enrolled in the fall of 2014; 2,425 in 2015; 2778 in 2016, and 3,185 in 2017. That has correlated with a slight decline in domestic out-of-state students.

Trivedi says many of the graduate students who attend UMass Amherst already have academic connections to the programs where they enroll and that is a pipeline his office encourages.

The Open Doors 2018 report was recently released by the Institute of International Education, a non-profit professional organization for all areas of international education and exchange. It is based in Washington, D.C.